Do what is right for you.
Follow your heart.
You can do it!
These are a few examples of those crappy standard clichés that we have been told all our lives. Quotes that we’ve seen on motivational posters on the walls of the manager’s office, a doctor’s waiting room, or more recently, sprawled all over the web from your friends and other strangers.
They all sound nice. We share them with our friends, or post them on Twitter (I am completely guilty of this). But until we live these quotes, we won’t truly understand them.
You are fake. I am fake. We live our fake ways to please other people. We don’t need to live this way. You can be you, I can be me, and we can be awesome together.
We go through our lives living for someone else. Our bosses, our clients, our spouse, our children. We are pulled in every direction trying to attend to their whims. At the end of the day, when you lie in your bed at night, you don’t feel you have achieved anything for you. You feel used, trodden on, and ‘fake’.
I used to be a people pleaser, keeping everyone happy, always smiling, never showed that I was vulnerable, or even had a strong opinion. I used to feel stretched before. I would change who I was based on who I was talking to, just to be likeable and nice.
My wife called me out on that a while back, and it caused me to be more aware of who I was and where I was going. I discovered and followed my own values. I began to interact with people in a more consistent manner, a more personal manner. I would voice more of my opinion, schedule more ‘me time’, and simply be me.
The weirdest thing started to happen. People still spoke to me (Shock! Horror!). If anything, people started to trust me, and talk with me more. The more I opened up, the more others would open up to me. The relationships became more meaningful.
When I entered the working world, I was always told you have to look professional, be business-like, and don’t show your personality. Personality is for artists and weirdos.
So I did that. I put on this professional, bulletproof face while at the office, and was a different person when outside of it. It didn’t feel right, but it was what everybody else did, so it must be true.
It took me 10 long years to discover that living like that is not healthy at all. Twofaced, bi-polar, fake – no wonder we all hate going into the office. When we are there we are not ourselves.
Over the years, I slipped the façade a few times. My personality filtered through. It didn’t go down well with the big wigs at the company. A discerning eye, or fend off of the subject would be the order of the day. So, I would patch myself up again and hide who I was.
As I got older, I became more comfortable with myself, and started to not really give a crap about what other people thought. I showed my weaknesses at the office, I stood up for what I thought was right or wrong, I voiced my opinion. And people started listening.
I am ‘me’ at the office now. I follow my values and stay true to myself. I am still only a lowly team leader in the business world, but I lead my team with me as the leader – not some head honcho uber-manager, but a person. A person with flaws, who makes mistakes, and is simply trying to make this world a better place. I am consistent in who I am between the office, my wife, social media, and this blog.
I am nervous when I post these thoughts to the web, or when I try and help my team members. Sometimes, I even feel like a fraud – like I have no right to give people advice. But, I remain true to myself, and try to genuinely help that person, whatever that advice may be.
I am writing this story for you, to show you that it is possible. Possible to be yourself and still get where you want to go. You must live and breathe who you are. Your values should get in the way of the company you work for, or the friends you hang out with. You are you, and nobody should stand in your way.
[Featured image: Elias Carlsson]