Are you funny? Sarcastic? Witty? A dog lover? Maybe your passion is coaching youth sports. Or maybe it’s a cup of tea and a sci-fi novel on the couch. Maybe it’s Downton Abbey or maybe it’s The Walking Dead. Maybe it’s snowboarding with your kids. Whatever it is. Whatever gets your groove on, put it in your work.
People have passions and joys in their life, yet do stale, tired work. We get stuck trying to do the work we think someone else wants, instead of the work that inspires us. We get trapped thinking that if we hide who we are, we will fit in better, and be more likable. The opposite is true. When we conceal valuable parts of our identity we begin to feel alienated from those around us, and alienated from our work.
Some people come alive Friday night on the dance floor when the lights go down and the beats go up. And yet give boring, sad, sales presentations on Monday morning. They’re not boring, sad people, they just switched off their true self when the time came to work.
Here’s a challenge. Take what you love and put it in your work. Yes, you might alienate a few people. You might turn some people off with your basketball analogies, or comparisons to cooking, or your stories about hiking in the Swiss alps. (Please no more cat videos.) But you will be understood. People will get you. They’ll understand where you’re coming from, what you value, and what you hold dear in your life. And because of that, they will respect and appreciate your work more.
What if writing good clean code is similar to your passion for gardening. What if building a marketing plan is a lot like a carefully planned hike with friends. And maybe killer graphic design is a lot like a great conversation with an old friend. Put it in your work.
Emerging generations are increasingly more assertive in expressing their identities, proudly, openly. And that’s a good thing. According to a recent study from Deloitte, when people within a diverse and multigenerational workforce begin to express their whole self at work, they begin to look past differences and start to focus on business results.
Millennials are refusing to check their identities at the doors of organizations today, and they strongly believe these characteristics bring value to the business outcomes and impact.
– Christie Smith and Stephanie Turner, Deloitte Leadership Center for Inclusion
When people within the organization become less concerned with concealing who they are, they start to become more interested, and active, in developing deeper and more meaningful collaborations with those across the organization to drive innovation and business results.
The result is an environment of psychological safety. In psychologically safe teams, members feel accepted and respected, and as a result feel safer to take risks, to be more audacious in their work.
Bring more of you to your work, and encourage those around you to also.
Shawn Hunter is President and Founder of Mindscaling, a company building beautiful elearning courses based on the work of best-selling authors. My new book Small Acts of Leadership, (Bibliomotion) will be out in October but you can pre-order a copy now.