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More authenticity instead of role play

Why being real is important to do the best work of your life

‘You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.’ (Steve Jobs)

So true, Steve. And I can feel so much more depth in your words. “What” you do is the basis of creating some inner satisfaction in living a business life. But it’s no guarantee that you can do the best work of your life. If the “What” wants to get a greater meaning, it needs the “How”. And how you do what you love is strongly connected to your personality and values. So to do the best work of our lives, it’s important not leave your personality at the door of business life, isn’t it?

‘It’s natural for people to take on slightly different personas at work and at home. But changing your personality too much can cause you to become stressed and feel disconnected, or even depressed. This is especially true if your work persona is at odds with your true personality.’ (Psychologist Andrea Liner, PsyD)

Maybe our ‘second face’ is also part of the fact that only 13% of all employees worldwide are motivated at work. A place where we as humans spend a lot of time, but often function like “soulless” machines. Makes me sad.

And there is the system, a profit and performance driven playground where we don’t talk about humans but about resources. We are trapped inside the “instructions follow execution” management playbook. Constantly driving in the mode of self- and organizational optimization to achieve more, to get faster and to perform better in the market. Is there space and time to reflect if this behaviour is in line with your values? Does this environment support the thrive of your personality? Look in the mirror and ask yourself: how often did you do things in your career that were externally controlled and were not the decisions you normally would prefer to do? Decisions that were not in line with your personality. And what was the main reason that you act against your beliefs?

For me, it’s time to start creating a business environment where authenticity and personality have space to thrive. This will influence peoples engagement and will build a deeper connection to what they do. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that this is the key to job fulfilment. We have to be aware as Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (an international authority in leadership assessment, people analytics, and talent management) motioned in his 2019 FastCompany article, that not every person wants to make the job the center of life.

We all have to decide for ourselves how to deal with the meaning of work. But what’s crucial for me is that people do not have to play a role play but bring their whole selves to work. That means more humanity than resource thinking, more real faces and emotions than iron masks, more real different personalities than following diversity ratios.

‘I define authenticity as honesty, without self-righteousness, and with vulnerability. I call this the authenticity equation (Honesty -Self-Righteousness + Vulnerability = Authenticity).’ Mike Robbins