Do you know how much energy we waste pretending, hiding, and ‘trying’ to ‘be’ something we’re not, in the workplace? A lot! So much!
We overly curate ourselves and our words to fit what we think people want to see and hear. We contort ourselves into various shapes to get rewards like promotions, praise and acceptance. We do the same to avoid punishments like failure, rejection and conflict.
Daily, we twist ourselves into pretzels expecting some kind of reward but the only reward is mental, emotional, spiritual and physical dis-ease. Life becomes hard work, dissatisfying and tiring.
Because this isn’t how we’re meant to live.
We’re meant to live in truth, honesty and authenticity, as nature intended us to be.
Is a plum tree trying to be a rose bush? No. Because it’s true nature is a plum tree.
Is the dolphin trying to be a shark? No. Because it’s a dolphin.
Is the dog trying to be a hamster? No.
Is the hamster trying to be a butterfly? No.
Because nature is wise – it knows its own inherent, authentic, true nature – and it expresses it. Whatever shape it takes. It is only us humans who try to be something else, something that we’re not.
It is only us who resist our own true nature, who hide and pretend, who fight and force against what’s really going on inside us.
We think that this will get us the promotion, the acceptance and so on. But really, the ultimate reward is simply unhappiness, feeling trapped, lonely, disconnected, unfulfilled and sadly, never reaching our full potential.
Lack of honesty and authenticity also weakens the workplace because everyone is wearing a mask, a costume, so no one really knows who they are working with. Thus, relationships and teams are built upon a fragile foundation of deception – all be it unconscious and not necessarily done to manipulate others or purposely cause harm.
Of course, the level of authenticity and honesty in any workplace is not binary, it’s a sliding scale depending on your culture, you may have more or less of a challenge in this area.
What happens when we express our truth?
We experience freedom. Lightness. Burdens and weights are lifted. Our energy is free to soar.
Think about it for yourself – when are you able to really be you? How does it feel? At home perhaps? If you’ve never experienced it, imagine it for a moment. If you and others were more authentic and honest about who you truly are and what’s going on inside, what would happen?
In my experience, it fosters acceptance of one another. Deeper connection. More meaningful relationships. More trust. More celebration of individuals. More joy. More love. More creativity. More diversity. More compassion. More heart. More life.
More of that please!
The truth is triggering to some people. Some people are closed up, heavily bound, they are scared of the truth and authenticity irks them. But that’s not your problem or the topic for today. This article is for people who want more authenticity, honesty, truth and all the benefits that come along with it. If that’s you, read on…
Tips for being more authentic and honest in the workplace and encouraging it in others
1. Face vulnerability
Most people don’t like to feel vulnerable, but on the other side of that supposed weakness, is your greatest freedom and strength. Being honest and open can be scary. Hey, sometimes you’ll have to face ugly truths about yourself – that’s no fun!
But do you know what’s really not fun? Living an inauthentic life. Never being real with yourself, let alone others. Reaching your death bed and realising how much not living truthfully hurt you, and, that it’s too late now, there’s no do-over.
Don’t just take my word for it – research shows the top regrets on the death bed were: not living a life true to oneself and, not expressing one’s feelings.
2. Lead by example
Can you be more honest about your struggles, your fears, foibles and fallibilities?
Can you share your heart’s greatest dreams?
Can you speak your truth and share your opinions, from the breakfast table to the boardroom?
If you’re not doing it, don’t expect your team to do it. That goes with all things in the workplace. Leaders must set the tone, through action not just words.
Once you do, see how others start to open up too. See how their masks are lowered, their guards drop and hearts expand. Connections, love, trust and respect build – which is a truly powerful foundation on which to build a highly successful team. As a leader, that can be your legacy.
3. Stop taking things personally
The reason we’re not fully honest, truthful and authentic is usually because we’re worried about how others will react.
Will they get upset, will they be angry, will they reject us, punish us? Will they shame us and judge us?
It’s our biological nature to want to remain part of a group. Being ostracised is a threat to our psychological and physical survival. But it’s only a threat to our animalistic parts. And we are much more than animals.
We are advanced human beings with advanced consciousness, living in a complex, modern world. Thus, most of us will not die if we speak and live our truth. It’s quite the opposite in fact – we will live, more than we’ve ever lived before.
We will find and attract new ‘tribes’ and new people where we belong and our authentic nature is accepted, welcomed and celebrated.
In most cases, the survival threat is illusory, the fear is illusory. So don’t let it stop you expressing your truth. If some people reject you for it, don’t take it personally – they are allowed their preferences just as you are allowed yours. Just decide if you are OK with hanging around that, or, if you need to find your truth tribe elsewhere.
Am I saying that you should ‘bare all’ at all times?
Of course not! Being authentic doesn’t mean showing up to work in your pyjamas having not brushed your teeth or hair! Some things should be shared in some places and not others. Likewise, some things are sensitive and personal, some messages do need a little thought before expressing them – to know this, is to be wise and mature.
Wisdom and maturity is knowing how to be your authentic self in the world, for the highest good of yourself and others.
Folly and immaturity is blaring yourself out there for the sake of it, disregarding your impact on others and misunderstanding the complex, nuanced world in which you live.
Being authentic and honest from a place of wisdom and maturity takes work. It takes undoing the decades and generations of psychological, fear-based conditioning that is baked into all of us (to various degrees).
But if you are diligent and committed, consistent and courageous when it comes to being truly you, you will start to unravel the pretzel and you will start to shine, incredibly bright. You will feel great burdens lift, you mind, body and soul will become free – and you will experience better health, vitality, energy, wellness, resilience, joy, connectedness and completeness.
And imagine how you’ll perform and contribute to the workplace then? Major things will happen, for you and those around you. It’s going to be powerful, inspirational and amazing.
So go forth, if this message speaks to your soul, and start being more of who you are, instead of who the world taught you to be. After all, the truth shall set you free.