New Year’s Resolution: Bring My Full Self to Work

When you set your goals for the New Year, I hope you’ll use your passion and purpose as a guide. If you’re not sure what they are, then I hope one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find them.

When we understand why we’re here and use our passion and purpose as our North Star, everything else that happens along the way is just part of the journey. You’ll hit obstacles and challenges, but they won’t affect the core of who you are. They’ll simply become part of the landscape you’re moving through in the moment.

One of the workshops I facilitate for clients is called “Passion & Purpose.” It was developed by CEO2 Founders Frances Fujii and Tom Voccola. Similar to having a company vision and mission, the workshop helps you to discover and articulate your personal vision and mission.

One of the things we do in the workshop is to identify your core values. If you‘re not allowed to express what’s important to you at work, your inside and outside will be out of alignment, and it will be hard for you to enjoy your job and your life.

For example, one of my clients, a C-Suite executive, we’ll call her Brenda, was not bringing her sense of humor to work even though it was incredibly important to her. She felt like her employees wouldn’t respect her if she did.

“Would you be surprised to know that your staff thinks you’re a jerk?” I asked during one of our coaching sessions. You’re not bringing who you really are to work. You’re bringing who you think a C-Suite executive should be.”

After working through a limiting belief that she wouldn’t be respected if she shared her sense of humor, I asked Brenda to try bringing that part of herself to work for a week. When I followed up, she said, “It was so much fun! I have so much energy.”

It takes a lot of energy to be something that you’re not. 

The change affected her team as well. While coaching some of her employees, they asked, “What did you do to Brenda? She’s so much more fun. Everything’s not so serious and critical. I feel like she’s more open to my suggestions.”

When we hold back and don’t express our true self, not only does it make us unhappy, but the people around us, our friends, family, partners and co-workers, miss out too.

Some of the organizations I work with have all of their employees go through a Passion and Purpose workshop as part of their onboarding process because they know that happy, satisfied, and on-purpose employees are inspired employees. They understand that a healthy organization develops from the inside out. It starts with the individual, moves to the team, and then to the organization.

During the workshop, we also dive into how to identify your unique abilities, things you do so exceedingly well they put you into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.” Focusing on your unique abilities helps you to use your time more productively, enjoy work more, and discover collaboration possibilities among team members.

One of the amazing things that happens during this activity, if a team takes the workshop together, is that they begin to barter. For example, someone might say, “I love working in Excel,” while another one says, “I hate it!”  If they’re on the same team, they can negotiate so that the person who loves Excel does more of that kind of work, and the person who hates it can spend time on something that truly lights them up.  Equally as important is that the non-Excel person can offer to do something in his/her unique abilities, for the Excel expert. Teams can allocate work among team members based not on their roles, but on a team member’s unique abilities.

When people come out of a Passion & Purpose workshop, they’re on fire! They feel inspired and joyful about who they really are; distinct from who their parents, teachers, or bosses wanted them to be. When others want us to act in a way that is in-congruent with who we are in our heart, it’s hard to feel joyful. At work, this can show up as resistance, being  a “bad” employee, or just being a bored employee.

On occasion, a participant in a Passion & Purpose workshop will discover that their job is not a fit for them. Because the organizational leadership understands how important it is for staff to express their unique self at work, employees have permission to be honest with themselves and their employer. They can either change roles or perhaps even leave the organization.

When you’re not engaged, happy, and committed to what you’re doing because it’s not who you really are, it doesn’t serve you, or your employer. This is the truth that progressive organizations live by.

Don’t hold back this year.

Bring your full self to work. And if  you are working in an organization where this doesn’t seem possible, begin looking for an organization where you can bring your entire being to work; your head, hands AND heart!

Try this:

  • Think of an important part of yourself that you’re not currently expressing at work; e.g. analysis, curiosity, fun.
  • Try this experiment – take opportunities to express that value or attribute at work, for just one week, and notice what happens.
  • Let me know how it goes in the comments below, on Facebook, LinkedIn, or by email.

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Onward and keep tapping your talent,


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