For the longest time, I tried to fit a mold.
To be old enough.
To be masculine enough.
To be business-y enough.
To be quiet enough.
To be non-white enough.
People kept challenging my career and worth for not being enough of one thing.
I took pride in each new version of myself. I was constantly changing but never really being anyone…much less myself. That’s when I realized that being a “chameleon” was the worst advice I’ve ever given at a keynote. That’s when I became free.
I realized that I don’t have to prescribe to the mold defined by society. It’s not always easy because we often think it’s easier and better when we live up to a certain standard. But you should worry less about conforming and compartmentalizing who you are at work versus who you are at home. You’re one person, not two; so instead of trying to fit the mold at work, be more concerned if you’re being true to yourself.
More Reasons You Should Fuck The Mold:
Conforming won’t get you noticed.
Fitting a mold only reinforces that you are just like everybody else and that if there is anything unique about you, you’re hiding it. An example of this is when you try to apply for a position that has 50 other applicants. It’s easy for your resume to get lost in the pile if you submitted a boilerplate resume everybody has. If you humanize your resume by using a cool font or a different color paper, you’ll be sure to stand out while being yourself.
Great leaders play to their strengths.
Effective leaders magnify their true selves instead of imitating what they see other leaders do. To lead people, you should be comfortable in your own skin. You can start by discovering your unique strengths because not all great leaders fit the same mold. What separates great leaders from average ones is their ability to recognize how they can use their strengths to influence people.
Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki is a great example of authentic and human leadership. Her leadership style has broken so many stereotypes regarding the female workers in an international corporate platform. What characterized her leadership style is substantial humility and trust toward her employees. Her particular leadership style played a significant role in transforming Google to become one of the most successful companies in the world.
Boost your team’s productivity.
You can focus more on the tasks and projects at hand when you don’t have to waste energy on trying to look and act a certain way at work. Being your authentic self creates psychological safety and, according to this Gallup report, increased psychological safety in an organization makes employees more engaged in their work and, therefore, your people will be more efficient.
Foster more creativity.
When people are encouraged to be themselves at work, they are less afraid to express their ideas and opinions. This leads to more innovation and breakthrough ideas. Moreover, studies have supported how authentic leadership promotes creativity in organizations and ensures more innovation.
Showing emotions doesn’t mean that you’re “soft.” In fact, authentic leaders communicate in a direct manner; the reason they’re so effective is because these leaders communicate with empathy. This type of leadership will result in successful outcomes. It lets people know what they should work on without getting disheartened and promotes a work environment where people want to participate and share their ideas.
Adopting different personas at home and at work is detrimental.
People who separate their personal and professional lives are more likely to engage in unethical behavior. This is based on a study done by Maryam Kouchaki, an organizational psychologist and an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at Kellogg School of Management.
Authentic leaders do not try to portray a character just to make people follow them. They are aware of their strengths, limitations and emotions. They show their real selves to their people and don’t conceal their mistakes or weaknesses. They are not afraid to be vulnerable and are able to connect more deeply with their employees.
And lastly, fuck the mold to reach your potential.
I realized that the greatest level of freedom is not how much financial freedom you have or how much freedom you have with your time, but to be free to fully express and embody WHO YOU ARE. Without being able to freely express who you are and breaking out of the box, you can never reach your potential.
One of the skills you must develop to reach your potential is being aware of who you truly are and being comfortable with your true self. You can’t fake it til you make it. No one succeeds in trying to be someone they’re not.
Do not try to change yourself just cause others tell you to. It doesn’t work. Instead, embrace who you are. If you still aren’t sure who you are, it’s never too late to discover YOU. Know your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.
We are capable of doing many things. You are many things and are capable of doing many things too. Remember that and always carry it with you.
In love and respect,