Rule #1 – Be Yourself
Back in the nascent days of Cronin Creative, we were presented with the opportunity to show our portfolio to the marketing director of a large medical company here in Nashville. Excited, we took the meeting and things were going great. Then we started to proudly display our graphic design work, most of it from our immediate music business past.
As she perused the CD packaging and marketing materials we designed for country artists like Reba McEntire and Marty Stuart, we could feel the executive rapidly fading. The meeting was, for all intents and purposes, over. With our music biz roots exposed, our potential client shut down, and, thanking us for our time, showed us the door.
We’d learned our lesson, or so we thought. We resolved to hold back a bit, thinking our too-colorful past might hurt our chances with future clients. That didn’t last long. For a lot of good reasons, it just didn’t work for us. The minute we decided to embrace and fully own who we are and the value of our experience and what we have to offer, we began to attract the clients that fit. We learned that there’s no substitute for authenticity in business.
A recent article from Gina Bell at Payscale.com provides a succinct list of the real-world advantages of just being yourself. The following is a slightly abridged version of this helpful list.
Authenticity Helps Build Trust
Being authentic at work helps to show others that you’re someone who can be trusted. And, it encourages others to be relaxed as well as honest and direct with you. When you have the courage to share your real thoughts, feelings, and ideas, others are more likely to respond in kind. Having open and straightforward communications with coworkers, clients, and bosses is important — and authenticity helps you get there, in a big way.
You’ll Feel Good About What You Do And Say
When you feel one way, but act or speak in ways that suggest you feel another way, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’ll feel better if your words and actions are aligned with your true beliefs. Of course, we all need to make compromises. But, it’ll be a lot easier to walk that line if you feel that you’ve expressed your ideas and thoughts on the matter at hand.
It Will Help You Be Stronger, Not More Vulnerable
By definition, authenticity means that you’re not only comfortable with yourself, you’re also comfortable connecting with others. The thought of being authentic or “truly yourself” at work can feel a little scary at first, as if it will leave you vulnerable. But, just the opposite is true. Showing others who you really are doesn’t make you more vulnerable — it helps you become a stronger and more secure version of yourself.
You’ll Contribute More.
The only way to give your coworkers, clients, and company the full benefit of your perspective is for you to contribute. Research suggests that traditionally underrepresented groups find it harder to be fully authentic in a workplace setting. A Deloitte study, reported on by Fast Company, found that some people felt more of a need to “cover” aspects of themselves at work. Diverse teams are better at problem solving, they’re more creative and innovative, and ultimately are a greater benefit to a company’s bottom line. The more authentic you can be, the more of a contribution you’ll make.
It’ll Make You Happy
Research has found a real link between authenticity and happiness. When the two are measured side by side, they are found to be intrinsically connected. After all, how could you be happy at work without being yourself? So, if you want to connect and thrive at work, trying being just a little bit more authentic. It’s tough to really find professional fulfillment when this crucial piece is missing.