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Be Yourself at Work

Actress Mabel Normand holding a small round mi...
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How much does being comfortable at work have to do with your performance? I’ve been asking myself that question for the past year and have determined that:

When I feel free enough to truly be myself at work, I have an opportunity to reach my full potential.

You’d be surprised at how difficult it has been to arrive at this conclusion. After four years of being broken down and built back up and another eight years of “fitting in” I have discovered that it’s super cool to be different from everybody else.

When I fit in, I am average or even below average. When I am myself, I am not.

Two Keys to Being Yourself at Work

If I could break things down into two key factors associated with being able to be myself, I would say those factors are passion and trust.

passion Over the past year, I have come to realize that feeling passionate about the work I am doing gives me motivation to push forward. I have seen people clock-in and clock-out on a daily basis over the years, and I have always thought that there must be more to it then that. That the 40+ years of my life I will spend working should amount to more then just punching a time card.

I was right.

I know that I don’t get nearly enough sleep at night, and I have just figured out a way to pile on an increased work load in my off hours… but reading and writing and learning and connecting just doesn’t feel like work to me, for some strange reason. I really enjoy it.

trust I’ve been paying attention to things this last year, because I came from a sub-optimal situation and doubted myself. I needed to make sure… After changing jobs, I quickly realized that I had fallen into a tremendous opportunity. So I grabbed it with both hands and held on as tight as I could. I’m still holding on, mind you and loving every minute of it.

The insight is that despite the passion I feel for the type of work I am doing, one other piece had to be developed before I could be able to truly be myself, and be unapologetic about it. I needed to trust and I needed people to trust me, and that doesn’t happen over night. It had to be earned both ways.

What Do You Think?

Are you able to be yourself at work? Or do you feel that you’ve been forced to fit into the mold of something you’re not? Are passion and trust the two keys to being able to be yourself, or did I totally miss like six other keys that are necessary? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

38 Comments

  • My business partner, Stephen Saber, took me to lunch one day after an epiphany. He said, “I know that you do things differently than most. I need you to do that even more, even harder. You have to be even more audacious.”

    Music to my ears.

    I haven’t looked back yet. Every day, I work harder at trusting myself to do what I need and to be the best me I can be.

    It’s working, at least I’m doing that and getting good results so far. : )

  • My business partner, Stephen Saber, took me to lunch one day after an epiphany. He said, “I know that you do things differently than most. I need you to do that even more, even harder. You have to be even more audacious.”

    Music to my ears.

    I haven’t looked back yet. Every day, I work harder at trusting myself to do what I need and to be the best me I can be.

    It’s working, at least I’m doing that and getting good results so far. : )

  • nelly says:

    I think these are probably atop a list if it existed. I have trust synonymous with respect. If your opinion/judgment and work are respected, and you’re treated with a respectful environment – you wouldn’t doubt your endeavors and neither would your superiors. which would make for a fairly good work environment.

    ultimately though, I think it’s a trade-off. Perhaps not 100% of “you” needs to be in the workplace, but if you can get to 75%, that’s a fantastic environment (in an office, with a professional, administrative or businesslike settings anyway).

    thanks for the post ~

  • Chris Hall says:

    Chris, I really appreciate the insight. 🙂 I just finished Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone where he talks about having the audacity to do things that others won’t. I love it. 🙂

  • nelly says:

    I think these are probably atop a list if it existed. I have trust synonymous with respect. If your opinion/judgment and work are respected, and you’re treated with a respectful environment – you wouldn’t doubt your endeavors and neither would your superiors. which would make for a fairly good work environment.

    ultimately though, I think it’s a trade-off. Perhaps not 100% of “you” needs to be in the workplace, but if you can get to 75%, that’s a fantastic environment (in an office, with a professional, administrative or businesslike settings anyway).

    thanks for the post ~

  • Chris Hall says:

    Chris, I really appreciate the insight. 🙂 I just finished Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone where he talks about having the audacity to do things that others won’t. I love it. 🙂

  • David Molina says:

    I think you hit it right on the money: passion and trust are the two sole proprietors here to being yourself at work. Regardless, if I’m doing a mission at Aberdeen Proving Ground or at the Oregon Legislature, the key is to be yourself at all times, regardless of the situation. People will decide whether they like your humor, your seriousness or something else. They’ll try to discipline your initiative, your curiosity and even your leadership (wrong answer). But if we’re not ourselves at work, and we even question our motives, then not only have we done a disservice to the others, but also ourselves.

  • Chris Hall says:

    Nelly – I like your definition of respect in the work place, and definitely agree with it. But I’m pushing to live in a world where we can all find places where 100% of us fits in at work… 🙂

  • David Molina says:

    I think you hit it right on the money: passion and trust are the two sole proprietors here to being yourself at work. Regardless, if I’m doing a mission at Aberdeen Proving Ground or at the Oregon Legislature, the key is to be yourself at all times, regardless of the situation. People will decide whether they like your humor, your seriousness or something else. They’ll try to discipline your initiative, your curiosity and even your leadership (wrong answer). But if we’re not ourselves at work, and we even question our motives, then not only have we done a disservice to the others, but also ourselves.

  • Chris Hall says:

    Nelly – I like your definition of respect in the work place, and definitely agree with it. But I’m pushing to live in a world where we can all find places where 100% of us fits in at work… 🙂

  • Karen Hohman Almeida says:

    Mygodyes!! If you are passionate about what you do, your well of energy, creativity, and imagination is bottomless, the hours pass like minutes, you experience joy regularly, and no one can touch the quality of your work. Woohoo!

  • Karen Hohman Almeida says:

    Mygodyes!! If you are passionate about what you do, your well of energy, creativity, and imagination is bottomless, the hours pass like minutes, you experience joy regularly, and no one can touch the quality of your work. Woohoo!

  • Chris Hall says:

    David – Thanks for the comment. I think you raise a great point: Is not fitting in the new fitting in? Meaning, like minds will attract one another and create optimal work environments. That would be a cool world to live in. 🙂

  • Chris Hall says:

    David – Thanks for the comment. I think you raise a great point: Is not fitting in the new fitting in? Meaning, like minds will attract one another and create optimal work environments. That would be a cool world to live in. 🙂

  • Chris Hall says:

    Karen – Totally concur. 🙂

  • Chris Hall says:

    Karen – Totally concur. 🙂

  • Ritesh M. Tamrakar says:

    Very true. But until you don’t get to know your true passion and trust to jump from where you are, What to do? fit in where ever you are and continue doing what ever you are doing Or keep on changing what you do?

  • Ritesh M. Tamrakar says:

    Very true. But until you don’t get to know your true passion and trust to jump from where you are, What to do? fit in where ever you are and continue doing what ever you are doing Or keep on changing what you do?

  • Jennifer says:

    So true. Finding something you are passionate or joyful about then getting to do it as your job is fantastic! For those still searching…keep searching and keep yourself open to new ideas, new opportunities and stay positive that you will find IT.
    Once you do it’s hard to STOP working! 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    So true. Finding something you are passionate or joyful about then getting to do it as your job is fantastic! For those still searching…keep searching and keep yourself open to new ideas, new opportunities and stay positive that you will find IT.
    Once you do it’s hard to STOP working! 🙂

  • Chris Hall says:

    Ritesh – Finding a passion is easy if you listen to your actions. Look back over the past week/month/year and list out the things you find yourself doing without really thinking about it, in your spare time. Then look for a trend, like “I’m always on the internets.” I was spending a lot of time on message boards researching, writing and sharing and it was really rewarding to me. That wasn’t a far stretch from blogging about a topic I know a lot about, project management. So I started my own on-line community of local project managers, and blogged almost every night. That gave me some street credibility when I interviewed for a role managing social media projects at work. Now I get to learn and write and share on the internets while managing projects as my full time gig. You can do it too, whatever the “it” may be… 🙂
    /
    Jennifer – I totally agree. 🙂

  • Chris Hall says:

    Ritesh – Finding a passion is easy if you listen to your actions. Look back over the past week/month/year and list out the things you find yourself doing without really thinking about it, in your spare time. Then look for a trend, like “I’m always on the internets.” I was spending a lot of time on message boards researching, writing and sharing and it was really rewarding to me. That wasn’t a far stretch from blogging about a topic I know a lot about, project management. So I started my own on-line community of local project managers, and blogged almost every night. That gave me some street credibility when I interviewed for a role managing social media projects at work. Now I get to learn and write and share on the internets while managing projects as my full time gig. You can do it too, whatever the “it” may be… 🙂
    /
    Jennifer – I totally agree. 🙂

  • Brian says:

    Looks like you found a good topic that hits home for a lot of us. I completely feel you on being energized at work when I am passionate about what I am doing. Sometimes I lose sight of that passion and I begin to get frustrated or annoyed because I can’t change the environment or people around me. That’s when you have to bring it back in and remember what makes you passionate about your work so you can get reenergized and not worry about changing things that are out of your control. Question Behind the Question is a great book that somewhat relates to this. If you haven’t read it, you should pick up a copy. Quick, easy read but is so relevant everyday. Put that one under Do Stuff.

  • Brian says:

    Looks like you found a good topic that hits home for a lot of us. I completely feel you on being energized at work when I am passionate about what I am doing. Sometimes I lose sight of that passion and I begin to get frustrated or annoyed because I can’t change the environment or people around me. That’s when you have to bring it back in and remember what makes you passionate about your work so you can get reenergized and not worry about changing things that are out of your control. Question Behind the Question is a great book that somewhat relates to this. If you haven’t read it, you should pick up a copy. Quick, easy read but is so relevant everyday. Put that one under Do Stuff.

  • What if being yourself interferes with your productivity? Or causes your boss to avoid your silly man-hugs? It’s a double-edged sword, Hallicious.

  • What if being yourself interferes with your productivity? Or causes your boss to avoid your silly man-hugs? It’s a double-edged sword, Hallicious.

  • This post really resonated with me. One major reason why I love my job at HubSpot so much is because I’m free to be my wacky, creative self. Having that freedom makes me thankful for my fantastic job, happy to work long hours, and excited to help my company succeed. I may dance around the office and act silly, but that’s also why I work damn hard. 🙂

  • This post really resonated with me. One major reason why I love my job at HubSpot so much is because I’m free to be my wacky, creative self. Having that freedom makes me thankful for my fantastic job, happy to work long hours, and excited to help my company succeed. I may dance around the office and act silly, but that’s also why I work damn hard. 🙂

  • Lauren says:

    This is precisely what my parents preached to me, growing up. Now that I’m in the workforce, I can see it so clearly. I am doing tedious office work in a cube with unenthusiastic cube-mates, but I love my job because I have found something in it to be passionate about, and I’ve allowed myself to be myself while doing it.

    Something to make clear, however, is that no matter how much you love your job, it doesn’t mean that you have to love your work (all the time). I think this is an important point, especially for those looking for their niche. My work is boring, tedious and often uncomfortable. However, there are times when it makes me think, challenges me, and appeals to my academic passion. These are the times I live for, albeit few, and they make everything else rose-tinted-ly wonderful. (Did I mention that I love my job?)

  • Lauren says:

    This is precisely what my parents preached to me, growing up. Now that I’m in the workforce, I can see it so clearly. I am doing tedious office work in a cube with unenthusiastic cube-mates, but I love my job because I have found something in it to be passionate about, and I’ve allowed myself to be myself while doing it.

    Something to make clear, however, is that no matter how much you love your job, it doesn’t mean that you have to love your work (all the time). I think this is an important point, especially for those looking for their niche. My work is boring, tedious and often uncomfortable. However, there are times when it makes me think, challenges me, and appeals to my academic passion. These are the times I live for, albeit few, and they make everything else rose-tinted-ly wonderful. (Did I mention that I love my job?)

  • Chris Hall says:

    Brian & Lauren – Awesome comments and I agree with your points.
    /
    Rebecca – I also love to challenge people’s perceptions of acceptable behavior in the work place. You and I should hang out in an office environment some time. 🙂
    /
    Greg/Meg – I don’t know if I’m feeling all trusty inside so much anymore, if you continue to utilize clever pseudonyms to talk about my productivity via the comment section on my blog… LOL

  • Chris Hall says:

    Brian & Lauren – Awesome comments and I agree with your points.
    /
    Rebecca – I also love to challenge people’s perceptions of acceptable behavior in the work place. You and I should hang out in an office environment some time. 🙂
    /
    Greg/Meg – I don’t know if I’m feeling all trusty inside so much anymore, if you continue to utilize clever pseudonyms to talk about my productivity via the comment section on my blog… LOL

  • I can’t believe you got @repcor to comment on your blog. Her music videos for HubSpot are pure awesomeness! Can’t you get her to read http://crumpleitup.com/blog instead?

  • I can’t believe you got @repcor to comment on your blog. Her music videos for HubSpot are pure awesomeness! Can’t you get her to read http://crumpleitup.com/blog instead?

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