“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau
For a long time I had an alter ego: there was a “work me” and a “private me”.
“Work me” didn’t show emotions because I learnt along the way that business is tough, and I need the shield of coldness to bear it. I was taught that if I want to be successful, processes are above people, uniformity trumps individuality.
When you try really hard to be something you’re not, it’s an exhausting battle you can never win. I also felt constantly inadequate and fake. I was afraid, “what if somebody finds me out? What if they realise I’m only pretending?”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
In order to change I had to understand that the acceptance of others means nothing without the acceptance of myself – the one person I can’t pretend to. And while my inner critic constantly tries to tell me it’s not enough, it’s not the accepted norm, I am better at ignoring it.
Sure, my approach to leadership is not the standard yet. Business still tries to separate work and life, saying we need a balance of the two, but what if, in fact, there are no two separate areas?
However there is more and more buzz around this. It started in spiritualism – it encouraged people to find jobs that makes them happy, fulfilled. It spread, and we entered the era of freelancers, then digital nomads, and now we openly talk about positivity, authenticity, courage and even transcendence in leadership.
Here’s what I believe about fakeness: people are unable to resonate with it. It’s impossible to believe in someone who doesn’t show who they are. Is it always easy to open up, to remove the protection barrier? No. But it’s always worth it.