Many of us find ways, however small, to bring our whole selves to work. Sometimes.
But we reserve the best of it for a select few if any at all.
You know, those rare moments where we dare to be vulnerable, to speak plainly and truthfully? The ones where we admit easily that we’re wrong and are quick to apologize and sincerely commit to doing better?
But only a few get to see us this way.
How do we decide who’s “in” and who’s not? I’m particularly interested in those we shut out. Those who don’t “deserve” our authenticity.
Is it because we believe them to be manipulative? Or toxic? Is it based on personal experience of negativity and abuse?
Or is it just because they are different? They are not like us. They don’t laugh at our jokes or read the same books as we do. They didn’t grow up where we did, or go to the same schools we did, or have the same beliefs as we do, and so we label them “other”.
And, on the basis of this label, all they’re entitled to is a curated, abridged version of ourselves that is safe and sterile. Neutral, but also potentially caustic in the event that even this outward shell needs protecting.
It’s difficult to compute what we miss out on when we approach work (and life) in this way. It’s like living in monochrome or a tapestry with a single ball of yarn. There is a certain kind or level of beauty that is only possible with diversity.
Nature sets perhaps the strongest example for us here with its vast array of hues and spots and stripes.
Yes, each will find his tribe. But there we must not forget that there is so much more on the other side.
Humility and vulnerability and kindness and compassion are universal.
Authenticity is a choice.