Do you ever feel like your work persona doesn’t quite fit! That it’s not you? It’s like that shirt with the top button in the wrong place. Button it, and you feel stiff, constrained, and self-conscious. Unbutton it, and you feel like you’re showing too much and feel just as self-conscious. Maybe it shows up in:
- Conversations where you’re projecting confidence or optimism that you don’t really feel.
- Not asking a question, admitting you don’t know, or even cracking a joke for fear of looking weak, unprepared, or unprofessional.
- Or simply saying “I’m good” when someone notices you might be off your game.
That was me for a LONG time. It took an embarrassing event to realize that acting the way I thought I should wasn’t really working.
How a Hangover Changed My Perspective on Leadership
Here’s the story:
Our team was in Denver for a meeting with our VP, who had a well-earned reputation for being demanding, direct, and for not suffering fools. At the time, I dreaded these meetings because I was usually the junior person in a room full of big personalities and even bigger egos.
We had the customary group dinner the night before. As it was customary, a few of us went out for drinks afterward and, well, let’s just say I over-served myself. The next morning I was in a hotel conference room, nursing a coffee and barely holding it together.
Now for me, one side-effect of being in this state was that my filter was down. I kept raising issues, cracking jokes, and asking questions – usually sarcastically – that I definitely wouldn’t do under normal circumstances. At our first break, my boss pulled me aside and said, “What is with you today?” I knew I was out of line. “I know, I know.” I said, “I’ll get it together. Sorry.”
I’ll never forget her response. “No. I love it! Where have you been? I need more of this guy – without the hangover, though.” She teased.
I can’t tell you how many clients come to me saying they feel like they are wearing a mask at work. Hiding parts of themselves. Thanks to years of conditioning and outdated concepts about work and management, we face strong headwinds when it comes to being ourselves at work.
Being yourself – your whole, authentic self – is possible at work without being too much.
And without alcohol!
1. Reconnect with yourself. Get clearer on your values, what’s important to you, and the impact you want to have.
2. Build resilience. Navigating this change takes courage, a willingness to make mistakes, and be vulnerable. As uncomfortable as it is at first, it’s worth it!
3. Choose your mindset. Recognize the assumptions and judgments that run on autopilot and hold you back. Choose new ones that free you up to be yourself.
4. Practice. Dust off those parts of yourself you didn’t think would work and take them out for a spin. Be open, curious, honest, transparent, and fun. In a word – yourself. Learn, calibrate, and try again. Rinse and repeat.
If you’re dealing with some of these issues and want to understand how you can improve your work-life and your life as a whole, let’s chat. Being yourself, your whole, authentic self, is the shortest path to success, impact, presence, and real interpersonal connection. It will all be with less stress, more balance, and more fun. Now that you’ve learned How a Hangover Changed My Perspective on Leadership, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too!