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  • Are You Your Authentic Self at Work?

    Real Self photo from ShutterstockAuthentic Self?

    To quote Dr. Phil

    Are you living a life that is more in tune with your “authentic” self (who you were created to be) or your “fictional” self (who the world has told you to be)?

    Gee, I never thought I would write a post where I would quote Dr. Phil!

    Are you who you appear to be? Let me explain.

    Many of us who have worked for 20 or more years have changed our behaviors there to fit in, to be a more attractive employee, to get paid more, to be more valuable… We have morphed our behaviors to fit in.

    I am a certified Birkman consultant. The Birkman assessment will tell you in nine different behaviors both how you appear and how you want to be treated. We are usually treated the way we behave. When the way we behave is markedly different than the way we want to be treated, issues arise.

    Let me give you some examples.

    Closet Introvert

    My MBTI score is ENTJ. The E is for extrovert, or I behave like an extrovert. I can work a room at a networking event like a pro. I am an excellent presenter. The issue is, I am a closet introvert. When I finish a presentation or leave a networking event, I am exhausted. I am very good at behaving like an extrovert, but it exhausts me.

    I have learned that, if I am going to teach a class all day, I need to spend the evening alone or with only a few close friends. I am not an extrovert. I really want to be left alone!

    Most people do not know that about me. I know I am not the only one who masks his authentic self in this way!

    Stealth Competitor

    A stealth competitor is someone who appears to be all for the common good. They are very nice people. However, they feel if they do good work, it should be noticed and they should be rewarded.

    The kicker is they never have to ask to be rewarded.

    Unfortunately, this is very common in the western world. Many of us were trained by our parents and society that if we do good work, it will be noticed and we will get rewarded. We do not need to ask.

    Stealth competitors rarely feel they are valued at work.

    Sound familiar? Stealth competitors are very common in certain work environments!

    By the way, there is a very good book written on this topic – Know Your Value by Mia Brzezinski.

    Structured Anarchist

    I have had quite a few clients who are structured anarchists. The appear to be very orderly. They function well in a rules oriented environment. The issue is they have to create all of the rules!

    These individuals want to create the rules. They are great at creating order out of chaos. If they enter a new environment they need the freedom to change the rules to their suit!

    Sound familiar? There are a lot of you out there!

    In each of these cases, the way people behave does not show their authentic self. They often are not perceived for who they are and, therefore, are not treated the way they want to be treated.

    The personal brand you create is not completely authentic.

    How about you? Are you the real you at work? What does it say about your personal brand?

    Marc MillerCareer Pivot

    Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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    Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers published in January 2013, which has been featured on Forbes.com, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Career Pivot was selected for the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at two successful Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

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    4 comments on “Are You Your Authentic Self at Work?
    1. avatar

      Great comments, Marc. In a large business organization, I have to wonder what some people would be like without these “filters” on. Some people that I work with show their true personalities, and those seem easier to identify. But you can always point out a fake person, or someone who probably acts differently outside of work. I myself have been a stealth competitor, always working in the background and not seeing the recognition. What can we do to change our behaviors at work and make it better for everyone we work with?

      • avatar
        Marc Miller says:

        We first need to understand that we have morphed our behaviors. When I received my Birkman and realized I was a closet introvert, I can do a much better job of taking care of myself. I bracket alone time before and after periods that I am required to be around people. This keeps me from becoming a a**hole at work.

    2. avatar
      Nick Johnson says:

      Marc, we may be the same person (in which case it seems like it would be redundant to comment because you already know what I’m thinking). In case we are not, so is it better or worse to be your true self at work? Does it depend on your personality type? The working environment?

      I have seen this go terribly awry in the past and want to make sure there is a clear either recommendation or warning here. Perhaps you could write a follow-up explaining how to reveal your “authentic self” slowly, so as not to “tip the boat”.

      Good thoughts – thanks for writing!

      • avatar
        Marc Miller says:

        This is an interesting comment. Most of us do not reveal our authentic self because we have buried it pretty deep. I will have to think about that one.

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