When you walked into work today, did you have to adopt a persona radically different than the one you had when you were hanging out with friends over the weekend?
If so, why?
Did it make you happy? Do you like having to toggle back and forth between split personalities?
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’d prefer to just be who you naturally are all of the time. So, let’s just cut to the chase here: I recommend you find a career path that allows you to be the “real you” all day, every day.
Think about conversations you’ve had with older generations — your grandparents, aunts, uncles, Mom and Dad — about “jobs” or “work.” There’s a good chance the stories follow a similar theme. “Well, we made the best of things,” or, “You got to do what you got to do.”
Their concept of the word “work” had a grey hue around it. Work to them likely carried a sense of roboticism. Attach the bolt, tighten the bolt. Receive the paperwork, file the paperwork.
Thank God we don’t live in that world anymore.
Over time, technology has freed us from this roboticism, and most of us can agree life has gotten exponentially better. A lot of the work today is specialized, diverse and tech-driven. Consumers now have dozens of choices for any single product.
My father-in-law once told me about the day his local grocery store got a second brand of cheese in the 1970s. Seriously, it only had one option before. Just thinking about the amount of cheese choice in the dairy aisle right now stresses me out.
Now, suppose we time traveled to a Manhattan subway stop in the 1970s, the same time my father-in-law was in college. Cars would be flooded with businessmen and women in dark suits, white shirts and bland dresses heading to work.
Today, the suits are still there, but they are complemented by outfits as diverse as the city itself. They are outfits people are proud to wear and feel good in.
We live in a time when there are products and services for everything. If you have a problem, there is a good chance there is something out there that can help you solve it. If you have a specific style preference, there’s someone out there, making something tailored very closely to your taste.
These products are customized and filled with personality and style. This is largely the result of companies hiring the kinds of people who’d want to buy their products or services themselves.
Of course, this fundamental change in business isn’t only privy to the fashion and fix-it worlds. Great companies, whatever the industry, state its core values with both customers and employees in mind, knowing there is a direct link between the two.
Zappos is a great example of this mindset. It has a legion of loyal customers and incredible employee satisfaction scores. Some of its core values include:
"Create fun and a little weirdness. Be adventurous, creative and open-minded."
Employees embrace those values, and it translates into service consumers adore.
Today, the value of a product is derived from the personality of the individual who is behind it. Knowing this, companies are cropping up left and right, putting emphasis on hiring great culture fits and letting those personalities shine.
You no longer should leave your “real you” at the door when you walk into work. The “real you” is valuable, and can drive an organization forward.
If you're wearing a mask 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, you are in the wrong job.
Your coworkers should not get to know who you “really are” at a bar after work. You should be yourself all of the time. It’s healthier for both you, and the business you contribute to.
There is a job out there that will celebrate who you really are. Go find it.