These are the terms we have for people who say one thing when they are around us and another when we’re gone. It’s an age-old complaint: Universally deplored. Why, then, have so many business learned to not only tolerate this behavior but to actually encourage it?
There is an invisible line between what one can express in “professional” life and “personal” life. Like the electronic dog collar that zaps a golden retriever when he hits the imaginary fence at the edge of the yard, there are cultural consequences for being too “human” in a business scenario. Consider these:
- It’s alright to laugh at work, but not to cry.
- It’s alright to be indignant at work, but not to be hurt.
- It’s alright to express courage at work, but not to express vulnerability.
A portion of your humanity is permitted: The rest must be packed up neatly and stowed under the seat until you return home.
What if you were the same person, everywhere you went?
Not to say that we should call for a series of crying fits at the office. There is, of course, a time and place for everything. But who decided meetings had to be conducted in confusing unintelligible jargon? Why do we speak so differently at work than at play? What reasonable human uses the words “utilize” “monitize” and “synergize” over a pint at the pub? Who mandated these profound boundaries between the “false front” of our “presentable” selves and the truth of our “whole” selves? And do these cultural formalities serve us any longer in an era of openness and an age of accountability?
When I hire someone, I’d love to know WHO they are, not just who they can pretend to be for an hour. I want to know what moves them, what drives them, what inspires them, how I can help them achieve their dreams. I want to hire a human, not an actor. I want to work alongside people, not “resources.” I want to collectively, collaboratively create greatness beside a team of living, breathing, feeling, caring human beings.
So I’ve decided to be one me, everywhere, come what may. It is an odd choice and at times brings the occasional quizzical look. Life is flying by too fast for me to have to remember which “me” to be when.
What about you?
Are you TWO, too?
Or does your true “you” shine through?