One of my favorite workplace culture definitions comes from toolbox.com. This HR organization defines workplace culture as:
“……the cumulative effect that leadership practices, employee behavior, workplace amenities, and organizational policies create on a worker/internal stakeholder. It can be measured as either positive or negative work culture.”
I am sure you have heard this before “it’s important that you fit in.” Whether at work or on social circles, “fitting in” and being accepted seems to be the golden carrot. Yet we hear conflicting messages all the time! The current voices in diversity, inclusion and equity are shouting from the rooftops “be your authentic self!” And yet, you still hear whispers that maybe you are too boisterous, too direct, too quiet, too emotional, too much of “you” and not enough of someone that “fits into the culture” or better yet “represents the shared values of the organization.”
When you think about it, most inter-relational events happen not in a vacuum but as the culmination of a series of smaller occurrences. A lot of the time the series of events happens almost imperceptibly. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
I debated for a while on posting something about what’s going on in America these past couple of weeks. Here’s the thing: this is not news to me. This is the culmination of thousands of events that have now brought us to a tipping point. The question now is: where do we go from here?
Lead with compassion: Trust that you won’t ever really know another person’s experience but that your commitment to supporting each other through this shift is necessary.
Listen with a quiet mind so you can hear the words and the pain: You can’t have compassion if you don’t take the time to listen and learn. Not just to the cries of people of color suffering but to the cries of our white brothers and sisters trying to make sense of this. We all have a hand in why our country is suffering right now. We ALL have a duty to listen. We ALL have a duty to not blame or point fingers but to embrace each other, forgive and heal.
Here’s my point: We can all talk over each other and say our peace about what’s right and wrong but if we can’t be quiet, listen and know that people are coming from a place of truth, for them, based on their experiences, we will NEVER move on.
If you are a leader pay attention. People are watching and listening to what you say and do. That is a heavy weight to carry. But it’s yours so use your voice wisely, lead from a platform of compassion and be the first to shut up and listen. People will follow your lead.
So: How are you dealing with all of this?
It’s Saturday. What are you up to? I know, it’s still #quarantine2020 for a lot of us. Not a lot to do, see, experience…….Really? I wonder……I made a choice to invest in myself this weekend by taking a weekend long virtual conference on how to develop virtual events. I know!!! All weekend…on Zoom! I bet you are thinking, is it worth it since we are on Zoom/Skype/Virtual all week. My question to you is: are YOU WORTH IT????
Seriously. Taking time for self development should be one of the more energizing things you do. As we start getting back to the world, giving not just self care, but self development time to yourself is key to re-entering an event changing world. The key word is giving. This is a gift to yourself and its just as important that you give to you as it is to give to others.
So- What’s your self development for today? Are you trying something new? Taking a new risk? Learning something outside your comfort zone? Get to it people! no better time than the present.
As states start to reopen it feels like we are seeing a light at the end of the proverbial quarantine tunnel. You are probably hearing statements like “we are coming back to the life that we used to have.” We may very well returning to “normal” but how you return is up to you. I invite you to take a couple of moments of introspection with me and think about your “comeback.”
– What did you learn?: Often we don’t ask this question enough. I don’t mean the “what did you learn about the world, work, your partner/husband/friends.” I mean what did you learn about you? Are you resilient, tolerant, intolerant? Do you love and accept yourself as you are? Did you really need Starbucks (OK…..I do, I love it……) or are you good with a regular cup of coffee? We had a lot of time to be with ourselves. Do you see yourself in a different light? Maybe even have a lot more respect for yourself? This was not an easy road. We all have been impacted in different ways but I hope you can walk away with a stronger sense of self. I know I have.
I am sure you can relate: You think about someone or a situation and your mind plays the multiple scenarios in which things can go really well or really wrong. Better yet you practice the argument/fight in your head before it ever happens. Sound familiar? Here is a way to get out of that mental loop that does not serve you.
Step 1: Stay Present
We do this all the time and think its OK because its our brain on automatic. It’s actually not OK. Stay present and pay attention to your thoughts. That way you know what thoughts are triggering what emotions (yes, even the fake fights in your head create anxiety). If you are present and aware then you can also feel those emotions coming on and you can do something about it.
Staying present does something else. It lets you evaluate if your reaction is based on what is happening right now or based on past experience (even past experience that may be completely unrelated to your current situation). For example: I have a great relationship with a friend now. It did not use to be this way. We used to be pretty contentious. My issue was that I knew someone that was “like her.” And assumed I would get the same treatment from my friend as I did from the frenemy I used to have. Had I not stayed present and observed my current friend’s behavior I would have missed out on a great relationship strictly because I “just knew” how things were going to go.
Step 2: Self Dialogue
Yes I am back to this- talk to yourself and ask: These thoughts, is it my reality right now? Why am I preparing for a fight? Is the fight right now or am I guessing its going to happen? What is really happening right now?
Oftentimes we rely on others to tell us what we are worth. We look at how our actions, accomplishments and ideas are received. We mistake opinion for value and feel less than when it’s not what we thought it would be. In a society where instant feedback lives in likes and emojis we really must work harder at knowing our value. But how do you know without feedback?
• Keep it real: Last week we talked about authenticity. That is the ultimate way to keep it real. Think about it this way- when you are your whole self and do not compromise your values, emotions, goals and dreams for others then you are in a place of self-love and acceptance.
• Hold yourself up to your standards: As humans we have our own internal compass of values and standards. We tend to hold them up and judge others under these rules. But what happens when we are honest with ourselves and hold ourselves accountable and leave everyone else out of it? Suddenly, we are in growth mode to improve/better ourselves in a way that satisfies our spirit versus projecting out judgment. You know what you are worth because you walk your walk and talk your talk. No one can do you better than you can.
• Honor yourself: Affirm each day what you are worth. This is an exercise in internal gratitude. We spend so much time telling ourselves what we do “wrong” that we forget all the things that we are doing well. Each morning tell yourself the truth- You are a fantastic human being that has done so much already and is doing so much more today. Love yourself enough to be enough. When you are in this space you will find that your value is more than what others think, your value is inherent and non-negotiable.
So now that you know what you are worth, what do you do with it? Use it as your compass to determine how you treat yourself, how you want to be treated and who/what you spend your time on. Suddenly you won’t have a tolerance (or better yet- not care) when the hatters come around trying to tell you your worth. You will be able to hear opinions for what they are worth, perceptions, and you will be able to more easily decide if they are valid for you or not.
PS. There is a lot of content in today’s blog that focuses on you. Some may read this and say, “this is fine, but we must also focus on others.” I am of the opinion that you can not effectively focus on others until you are clear in who you are, what you are worth and what you bring to the table to help others. Self-work does not happen at the cost of supporting the world but should happen before you can support others. So do the self-work first because you can’t hold others up if you don’t hold yourself up first.
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” – Maya Angelou
Being true to yourself is always important. But being true to yourself and being authentic are two different things. Here is how it works:
• Being true to yourself does require some level of authenticity but it leaves room for your “work self.” You know what I am talking about, the one that speaks corporate lingo, doesn’t cuss, does not generally argue aka bite your tongue, and has the plans for climbing the corporate ladder. This is being true to yourself because you are working on your goals the best way you know how but its not your overall authentic self because you have to live in the corporate politics and/or making other people happy to get to where you want to be.
• Being Authentic does not have a work self. You are you, 100% of the time and that person is comfortable with themselves in all environments including corporate culture. Here is the biggest difference. This person is aware that they may not be a fit for everyone aka not everyone likes them, and they are OK with it. More than that, they embrace it as an opportunity to also evaluate why they may not like some of those people around them.