I’m curious… do you feel like you can totally be yourself at work, quirks and all? If not, you are not alone!
As I discussed in my recent Global TV segment, most of us have a “work self” and a “home self”. When we show up to work each day, it’s common to believe we have to leave aspects of ourselves outside of work. The same goes for when we get home. But that leaves us feeling divided; like something’s missing. When we choose to leave parts of ourselves behind, what we’re really leaving behind is the opportunity to have more impact, to become more fulfilled, and to experience more complete growth as a person.
It’s time we stop dividing ourselves. It’s time to start being truly you at work – your quirks, your weirdness, your everything. It’s time to be ALL of you, not half of you.
What do I mean by “weirdness”?
What we often think is weird about ourselves, or should be kept under wraps, isn’t actually weird at all. It’s usually our greatest strength. People talk about creativity, innovation, authenticity… weird encompasses all of that… your “weird” is your unique contribution… the essence of you.
You might be afraid to bring an idea forward because it’s out of the box and… what will people think? You might hesitate to ask about working on a project because it’s outside your usual mandate and… what will people think? You might not speak up at meetings because… what will people think? See the pattern? We let other people’s hypothetical opinions dictate which parts of ourselves come forward. The result? The best, strongest, most unique parts of ourselves get smothered.
Let your weird shine!
We try to split ourselves into different personas and it’s exhausting. It’s not sustainable. It drains you and it backfires when you are not aligned with who you really are. You feel unfulfilled, bored, demotivated and most of all, undervalued because… you are not valuing yourself!
As Brene Brown says, we need to choose courage over comfort. Choose courage. Choose to let your weird come forward and shine.
Easier said than done.
If you’ve been following my newsletters and blog posts, you know I’m all about actionable steps. Bringing your uniqueness forward is not easy. It takes, above all else, full acceptance of yourself and where you are today. To help you get to that place, here are 5 steps to bring your weird forward:
1. Ask yourself the tough questions
For many of us, we’ve been keeping our weird hidden behind masks for so long that we don’t even know what makes us weird or unique. These questions are meant to help you get back in touch with the core of who you are. Ask yourself:
- What makes me happy?
- What matters most to me?
- What are my top 5 values and why?
Dig deep and get vulnerable with yourself. Don’t think about what your answers should be. Let yourself feel your answers. What truly resonates with you?
One of my core values is spirituality. Now, many people think this is weird or quirky, so back when I was working in a startup environment, there was no way I was bringing that part of myself to work. Yet, the work environment was struggling and I strongly believed that stagnant energy was at the root of the issues.
At home, I would practice a technique called smudging – essentially, waving burning sage leaves or a palo santo stick around an environment, allowing the smoke to move out the stagnant energy, so you can invite positive energy in. I believed this would help the company thrive, but can you imagine people’s reaction if I started doing this during the work day?
And so, I decided instead to arrive at the office incredibly early one morning to smudge on my own, when no one could see my “weird”. Well, who should walk in right in the middle of my smudging but one of the company founders?! I panicked and blurted out, “I’m just removing stagnant energy!” The look he gave me said it all. This was weird. But he had to prepare for an important meeting with investors, so he just said, “We’ll talk later”, and off he went. Uh oh.
A few hours later he comes to find me and… “Melissa, whatever you were doing, keep doing it!” The meeting had gone so well and the company had secured a huge investment. Wow!
I chose to bring my whole self – quirks and all – to work and not only did it not backfire, I now felt so much more happy and fulfilled in my work and other people started letting their masks slide and bringing more of themselves to work. It was like an amazing domino effect that refreshed and motivated the whole office!
2. You can’t change what you won’t accept
As I mentioned, self acceptance is key. Embrace all of you; the dark, light, messy, human parts of yourself. All of it is you and all of it is worthy of your full acceptance. It’s ok to want to change parts of yourself. Great, even. Change is growth. But you can’t change what you won’t accept.
People often say, “I will be happy when…
- I lose 30 lbs…
- I get the promotion…
- I get married…
- I get the job… the Ferrari… the house…”
Don’t limit your happiness. Don’t deny yourself joy. If you’re constantly beating yourself up internally about what you don’t have, you can’t move forward. You need to accept where you are in the moment. Give yourself approval, love, recognition, support. A loved person has that strong foundation from which to grow. Be that for yourself.
3. Get real about what is standing in your way
Time for a reality check. I am all about bringing people out of their comfort zone and into their strength and power. It’s time to take an honest look at what is truly limiting you. Ask yourself, what masks need to be dropped?
My job is to take people to where they want to be. That means determining what is holding them back. When you think of what you want to work towards, or what you want to bring forward, what thoughts or beliefs are stopping you? Take inventory of your excuses and choose to stop rationalizing them.
You want to get to that better, happier place. Why let anything stand in your way?
4. Who are you giving the microphone to?
A lot of people feel they are not brave enough, strong enough, smart enough… Where are those beliefs coming from?
For me, it was always, “What will people think? What will they say?” Whatever limiting beliefs keep running through your mind, face those fears. Don’t give power to those negative voices. I call them the Gremlins and they thrive on fear. Stop giving the microphone to the Gremlins – that part of you that does not want to succeed; that want to stay in your comfort zone. This is a huge barrier I see in clients every day. Stop giving power to your fears.
What does it look like to face your Gremlins? Play it out in your mind or even write it down. For me, back in those startup days, I thought to myself, “Ok, what will people say? Well, what really is the worst they could say? That I smudge and meditate? That it’s kinda weird?” Sure, I’d rather people not think that, but it really isn’t all that weird. Talk back to your Gremlins to take away their power; their microphone.
Then hand the microphone over to that amazing voice inside you that’s nudging you forward.
5. Set the intention to bring your leader, your “weird” forward daily
Wearing masks, whether at work or home, is a habit developed over a lifetime. Changing that habit requires intention – intentionally doing things differently until the new behaviours and ways of thinking become your habit.
So now comes the hard part: putting these steps into action. It takes courage. It takes accepting yourself, fully – your shadow and your light. It takes a willingness to get vulnerable and put the best parts of yourself forward. It is so rewarding when you do.
As Meryl Streep said, “What makes you different or weird – that’s your strength.” As you move forward with step 5, remember that what you’re bringing forward is strength.
Ask yourself, “What unique contribution or essence of me would I Iike to bring forward?”
Set the intention to do one thing, each day, that aligns with your inner leader and moves you in the direction of your ideal life. That could mean speaking up in meetings, working on a side project, reaching out to a colleague for mentorship or advice, looking into workshops or programs to advance your career, meditating during your lunch time, or even sitting down with your boss to discuss what you want to bring forward.
It’s all about aligning with our values, our strengths, what makes us unique and compelling…and doing so at work will bring us to new heights of creativity, collaboration, engagement and productivity.
Are you ready to bring your “weird”, your inner leader, your uniqueness forward? Whether in your personal or professional life, I’m here to guide you to a place of full self acceptance and begin taking real steps forward. If you would like coaching guidance and someone to hold you accountable in your journey, connect with me. Let’s make this happen!