Bringing Yourself to Work
If you are just starting out in your career, this phrase might not mean much to you. Of course you bring yourself to work. What else could you do?
However, if you’ve worked for any length of time, it might have meaning. The longer you are employed, the more you come to realize that you can’t necessarily do at work what you might do in your personal life.
The pressures of work
Work requires a number of adjustments to what you might typically do.
- You have to bite your tongue. You need to be careful how you say things. ‘What a stupid idea’ will mostly garner resentment. You need to learn to say, ‘What an interesting thought.’
- You have to be a little respectful of your boss and/or the hierarchy. Where at home you might tell your significant other, ‘you’re full of it,’ you can’t usually do that with your boss. Some implicit deference is required even if you don’t feel that way.
- You have to toe the party line. Going around criticizing the company’s product, no matter how well justified, will at least get you a reprimand if not dismissal
- You have to play office politics to avoid losing ground. You have to keep your wits about you and fend off those who want your next promotion or even your job.
- You have to maneuver to get promotions. Those who wait to be promoted generally have to wait a long time. You’ve got to work your contacts and the system to position yourself correctly.
Bringing yourself to work gets harder
Respectful, polite, company booster, office politician, underground self-promoter. And all of this in addition to doing the stellar job you’re being paid for.
Can you see how learning these kinds of ropes may take you farther and farther way from who you really are? The wild and crazy guy is careful to say the right thing; the straight shooter stops shooting; the you that is analytic needs to shut up about obvious flaws; the friendly guy works behind the scenes to bring another down and raise himself up.
It only makes sense that you adjust to the work culture and learn the way to be successful and get ahead. However, I have sometimes (and maybe even often) seen people who are so concerned with getting ahead that they embrace the unwritten rules completely without asking what it might be doing to who they are over the longer term. Again, it’s not the answer that’s important. It’s being aware enough to ask the question: Have you stopped being who you are at work? Are you you or what the company wants you to be?