May the True “You” Shine Through


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:

  1. It’s alright to laugh at work, but not to cry.
  2. It’s alright to be indignant at work, but not to be hurt.
  3. 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?

18 Responses to “May the True “You” Shine Through”

  1. It’s a noble pursuit my friend. Via con Dios!

  2. Tristan,

    Great post! Especially like #3 – Itโ€™s alright to express courage at work, but not to express vulnerability.

    I consistently see your light shining through as you engage with others online. Always encouraging & mission focused. Thanks for all you do!


  3. Who else woukd you be but YOU!?

    Great post and I’m delighted you’ve
    chosen to be R E A L … relaxed
    energised authentic living!

    • Thanks, Sharon.

      I’ve been all sorts of folks before (as a one-time actor, it’s tempting to play the role you think another expects) but it’s much more fun being ME! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Much appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I concur, and I, too, strive to be one me.

  5. Eloquent Tristan. I especially love this line: “A portion of your humanity is permitted: The rest must be packed up neatly and stowed under the seat until you return home.”

    I often suggest to clients that they have a “bring yourself to work day”. The real point is that should be every day!

  6. Thank you, Susan.

    It took me years to realize I needed to bring myself to work. In fact, social media has been part of a culture shift that made that a more sane choice. The move toward transparency is a welcome one for me.

    Have an awesome day! ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Wow- I think this was written for me. I’ve been struggling with this a lot in the last year, especially when there are so many expectations implictly being put on employees that aren’t out-right said, but they are certainly felt and indirectly said through body language, etc. I’m at a point in my career that first and foremost, I want to have foreright and honest relationships with the people I work with, even if that means I’m less likely to be the next one chosen for a promotion because I’m no longer seen as being “professional” enough. We spend way too much of our lives at work to compromise so much!!

    • Thank you, Amanda.

      Every corporate culture is different. But I think we thrive when the culture and mission of the organization align with our own inherent values and personalities. The unguarded are free to do high quality work without distraction. They move from “watch your back” to “watch what’s next.”


  8. Great post. I’ve found that sometimes the dilemma goes both ways: at home or socially we’re expected to be light-hearted and fun. We should be just a courageous being thought leaders with friends as at work.

    • Thanks for your kind words. You make a great point, Greg. It’s a challenge to be an integrated, whole human in all of our interactions. But’s is worth the effort! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. My recent realization was to be myself at work no matter what. Like some of the other commenters have said, why be different. I heard recently someone say, “Histrionics is not professional.” Humans have emotions, need to express them, and then move on.

    Thanks, Tristan, for instilling my faith in being ME.

    • Most welcome, Jackie.

      You simply must be YOU: Of course, you will want to be a considerate YOU, a respectful YOU and an honorable YOU, but you must also be an honest YOU, yes?

      I often say “honesty and kindness are not antonyms”.

  10. Great post!

    Itโ€™s alright to express courage at work and be focused towards our goal, this enhance the productivity of doing work with positive and blissful environment.

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