How my wake-up call can help you? 5 tips on how to become more true to yourself.

This post relates how the harsh reality taught me the need of authenticity in the workplace. My wake-up call made me realise the importance of writing my own user manual.

Why authenticity made me so much happier in my work

From the early start of my career I held a great sense of responsibility which enabled me to grow quickly into a managing position. I had learned that being flexible was an important quality at work. This led me regularly on to exceeding my own boundaries.

When I started working in a predominantly male business sector I had to stand my ground as a young woman and I managed it very well.  After all I had learned to adapt myself easily so that strategy paid off. Acting as a cold-blooded negotiator I hardly showed any emotions at work. When it all got too much for me at times, I closed myself off as a coping strategy.

Just as you would dress up for work in the morning instead of the cosy home wear, you put on a different personality for work.

All this required heaps of energy from my body, energy I could not so easily top up from anywhere else. As well as I was able to manage it I tried to compensate the need for energy in my private life. And even this strategy has its boundaries. After all, one cannot absorb all energy from private life like a sponge in order to  wring it out at work on a daily basis.

Shocking wake-up call

Some ten years ago I received a shocking wake-up call. As a result of an annual routine check-up I got the verdict: cancer. A meltdown in my life!

I felt terribly let down by my body. Disbelief was my first reaction later followed by self-blame. Had I demanded too much of my body? Had I pushed things too far?

A wake-up call can present itself in many different ways. All kinds of physical illnesses as a result of a weakened immune system, a depression and burnout… Maybe you have already had a wake-up call?

No matter in what way we receive any sort of wake-up call, it is a huge shock to handle. It takes time and recess, some rest to decide how to go on with life.

Authenticity is being true to and honest with yourself.

What managers often say

During coaching and training I hear managers and employees regularly say they behave completely different in their private environment with family and friends than at work. They have, so to speak, a personality at work and a personality at home. Just as you would dress up for work in the morning instead of the cosy home wear, you put on a different personality for work.

“How exhausting!” I think and it draws me back in time.

From my wake-up call I gained many insights. I am a lot happier now because I understand myself better. I know my values, my natural style and aspirations.

Cancer has made me more self-aware. The disease forced me to make the right choices for myself eventually.

But the good news is you don’t need to go through any agony to become true to yourself or to become more authentic. You can take consciously time to work on yourself. You are able to write your own user manual.

Here are 5 tips to become more authentic at work:

  1. First of all think about your personal values.

What are your golden rules? For example honesty, health, loyalty…. Check if your personal values are aligned with what you do in daily life at work.

On the internet you will find lists with values to enable you to reflect on this. By further refining your selection it’s good to come up with your personal Top 5. Now see how loyal you are to your own rules. Do they match with what you do at work?

  1. Get to know yourself better

Discover your natural style, not the style you’ve learned from others because it requires more energy of you. Using your natural style requires no extra effort. On the contrary, it tops up your energy. By learning more about yourself you discover your strengths and pitfalls.

I filled out various personality tests over many years and a simple theory based on Transactional Analysis has been most helpful to me. Today I help leaders and teams to understand their working styles and communication styles better in interactive workshops.

  1. Become transparent in your communication

Explain why you say, think and/or do something. It grows trust with others and makes it so much easier for you and for others.

  1. Be sincere with others and especially with yourself

If you don’t know something, just say it. Feelings such as shame and guilt may lead us to non-authenticity. No-one knows it all and we all have moments of uncertainty. It is human. By admitting this honestly to yourself and openly with your team when appropriate, you will reduce the pressure on yourself. It has a stress-reducing impact.

An additional benefit for your colleagues is that you act as a positive role example. It allows others to express uncertainty, not knowing something and requiring help from others. It removes vulnerability from the taboo sphere.

  1. Do as you say

Practice what you preach! This is how you stay true to yourself and to others.

On May 8th you can disover your working style(s) in an interactive workshop in Dutch based on experiential learning. This enables you to learn more about your strengths and pitfalls, allowing you to understand how you function at your best. For workshops in other languages please contact me.