the masks we wear at work
Updated: Sep 13
I started reading Oscar Wilde's plays in high school. His discussions around the use of masks cut deep - a punch in the gut that made me realize I was hiding.
I was hiding behind perfectionism and shielding the world from many facets of my imperfect and insecure self. At 18, I started the journey of shedding those layers around external expectations and pressures. Three decades later, I feel freer, lighter, and more me (still a work in progress).
Along the way, I learned you could be, scratch that MUST BE yourself at work, too.
At the office, we often think we need to act or be a certain way to get hired, to get promoted, or to build internal influence. Yes, there are talents and behavioral skills that will help achieve these goals. I can also help. THE MOST important thing, above all else, is being true to you.
Release the burden of being more than one person. Take off that mask or remove that facade at the office and let the world see you.
To illuminate, I'll share a personal confession. When I took a new job at an awesome agency called Augustine in Rocklin, CA, I sat next to a brilliant and hilarious woman, Brigitte Austin. We worked side-by-side in an open workspace for two years. Flash forward to my last day, she said one thing in front of the entire agency at my farewell party that will forever stay with me. And a story I've told countless times over the last 15 years...
"Kelly, we're going to miss you. And I hope you never forgot that I'm the friend that helped you pull that stick out of your ass."
She was right. In my early 20s, my second job after college, I was uptight, super formal, and overly private. I wanted to be taken seriously. But what I actually and unintentionally did was create an impression that I wasn't approachable, relatable, fun, or even human. Yikes.
Now, when I met people in life and work, I purposefully lead with my personal brand - warmth, grace, and curiosity. That is who I am and what I want to be known for.
The magic of this? When you are living and working as your most authentic self, the power to connect, collaborate, and influence more deeply and bravely becomes effortless. And, you naturally show up and expand as a better leader, partner, and team member.
So as we approach another Friday, a day where we are naturally more relaxed, think about those layers or barriers you've built up over time and consider which ones are ready for retirement.
It's time to take that stick out, so-to-speak. I support you. We all support you.