OK so my first blog I found surprisingly easy and really enjoyed writing, it took no time really and was a pretty therapeutic process.
Blog 2, this blog, I am really struggling to write. It’s taken ages and I don’t even think it’s that good, in fact this is me starting it all over again. Which gets me thinking, why am I doing this? Maybe it’s not for me, maybe I just don’t have anything worth saying right now, or ever! Then I look back at my blog title ‘My Muddled Mind’ and I realise it still is, muddled that is, but I’m feeling a bit upbeat right now having achieved some clarity this week, just some mind, let’s not get too carried away!
Good start to the year
So I have actually had a really good start to this year, I filled out my ‘Passion Planner’ with quite specific things I wanted to tick off – and I did them! Get me, I can stick to a resolution for one whole week!
But joking aside I feel motivated right now off the back of some personal wins in situations I would have bet good money I wouldn’t have been successful with (won’t go into specifics here, mainly cause they are boring, but mostly bit worried who might read it). And wins sounds a bit harsh, like someone lost, which they didn’t. What I did manage, I think, is to get a few people to see me differently and that maybe they need to listen to me more, and more importantly, I’m no push over!
You don’t have to act on all the advice you get
The thing is I have had a tricky couple of years and as a result a few crises of confidence which has meant that I have probably sought out more advice than I needed. I’ve not had confidence in my own abilities, and specifically my ability to make good decisions, and maybe I should of. Instead of build me up unfortunately a few, well-meaning people, only served to instil a level of self-doubt in me that meant I stopped making decisions, I was too easily swayed and started to become an alternate version of me.
And so the reason for this blog – authenticity, best told through a working example
I’ve been told, many times, that if I want to get further in my career and be ‘respected’ by more senior management I need to adapt my style, change my approach and reconsider the way I manage people. See my biggest professional challenge is that I have worked at the same organisation for over 15 years, woman and girl, and I’m liked by a lot of people – some would say that’s a good thing but apparently that doesn’t work in your favour!
Well I listened to this advice, and even believed it for a bit and considered how I might address it; training, mentors, mimicking other management styles but it just wasn’t working for me, it felt wrong, it was stressing me out and fundamentally I was massively underachieving. The thing is before all this ‘confusion’ and well-meaning advice I was doing alright, I had a well-motivated team and we were delivering really good, creative work. So just because my style wasn’t textbook does that make it wrong?
Have your own identity – get a fringe
I’ve been reading lots about authenticity (have a look on Twitter everyone is talking about it) and some of it really resonated with me; the importance of being honest, first with yourself and then with others (part of the reason for investing so much time in the Passion Planner – it asks some really searching questions). And then I had that lightbulb moment, I realised why I was feeling so challenged – I was letting others convince me that I had to change but in fact what I had to be was more like me. I had lost sight of my identity, lost my ‘self’, my authenticity.
And there lies the relevance of the fringe. I got one over a year ago and it was a striking change, it got loads of comments, it worked for me. Then, like I always do, I thought ‘time for a change’ because change is good, it’s how we progress. So I grew it out. But actually it didn’t need to change, it worked, like so many things – so god damn it this week it came back, and, with it, more than a little bit of me!
So what’s the lesson?
For a number of reasons this work year is going to be very different and so I thought, stuff it, in the words of the great song ‘I’ll do it my way’. If I fall on my arse I will have no-one to blame but me, but then I might just pull it off! So what is my way? Well; plain speaking, logical, common sense, which contrary to popular opinion you can do alongside complex strategic thinking (it doesn’t mean I’ve missed the point, in fact it might mean I am the only one that really has seen it).
So I might be kidding myself, we are only a week in, and I might be getting carried away with a couple of good days (I am sure there will be plenty of bad) but there is something to be said about being ‘authentic’. Especially if you are me, someone who gets stressed out trying to play games and politicking.
Can leopards change their spots?
This doesn’t mean I won’t adapt to situations and maybe think more before I open my mouth to speak but that’s just common sense, not fundamentally changing who I am (it’s like eating out, sometimes you get one set of cutlery and you can eat with your fingers, other times you know to go from the outside in!). I mean, can you even change your personality? And more fundamentally should you? (Unless you are some horrible psychopath).
When I first became a mum I read somewhere that a child’s personality, their values, beliefs and moral compass, are established by the time they are 7 (my boys are both older than that now so I hope, if true, I’ve got it right for them!). If that’s the case, can you change who you are, or if by trying are you just pretending and in which case fooling yourself and other people?
I don’t think you can change your personality, I think instead you need to take time to know yourself, who you are, good and bad and then work with it and don’t let others convince you of how you should change – you can’t, you have to be authentic to you. And if that doesn’t work then you change your environment for one where it does (or you get a fringe!)
‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’ – Oscar Wilde