Authentically existing in the corporate world can be a daunting challenge. In my corporate HR days, I remember on-boarding a new executive on their first day, who quickly realized they were over-dressed for working in a tech company: “Ah, does no one here wear suits?” This highlights that from the moment you step into the office (physical or virtual), you’re often expected to conform to a certain set of rules and behaviors. You’re pressured to dress a certain way, speak a certain way, and act a certain way based on your peers and organizational culture. It can feel like you’re putting on a mask, hiding your true self, and suppressing your unique qualities.
Parking who you really are to go to work each day isn’t healthy.
This tension can be especially difficult when you value authenticity, individuality, and creativity. Not being able to be your natural self means you’re compromising your values and sacrificing your identity in order to fit in and succeed in the corporate world. This can feel like you’re living a double life, presenting one version of yourself to your colleagues and another version to friends and family. Plus, it’s exhausting to be two people, feeling like you are doing neither of them justice.
I've worked in offices where I naturally fit in, and many I didn't. It's excruciating trying to navigate how to belong, and losing yourself in the process. When you're not authentic, it's easier to be over-looked or dismissed at work. One of the reasons why daring to be your authentic self can work in your favour. Truth is, authenticity and success in the corporate world are not mutually exclusive. In fact, being true to yourself and embracing your unique qualities actually enhances your performance and helps you stand out in a crowded and competitive field.
One way to authentically exist in the corporate world is to focus on your strengths and passions. Rather than trying to fit into a mold or emulate someone else's success, identify what makes you unique and valuable. What skills and talents do you possess that set you apart from your colleagues? What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most? By honing in on your strengths and passions, you can bring your authentic self to the workplace and excel in your role. As the saying goes, there’s only one you, that’s your superpower.
Another way to authentically exist in the corporate world is to cultivate a supportive network. Seek out colleagues and mentors who share your values and provide guidance and encouragement. Connect with like-minded individuals through professional organizations or networking events. By surrounding yourself with people who understand and appreciate you for who you are authentically, you’ll feel more confident and empowered in the workplace.
Authentically existing in the corporate world will always have its challenges, but it’s not impossible. By focusing on your strengths and passions, cultivating a supportive network, and staying true to your values, you can bring your authentic self to the workplace and thrive in your career. Remember, success in the corporate world is not about fitting in, it's about standing out comfortably and making a meaningful contribution.