Be true to yourself

Is there a difference between how you act at work compared to how you are at home? If so, what does this difference look like? (see "Genuine success"). If you come over differently at work than you do at home why is that? Is it a choice? Is it the role you play? Can you be completely yourself, or do you not dare? Or does the organisation not allow it?

A team I worked in years ago, regularly told me that my choices were rather black and white and were not discussable. But on the other hand, if I asked my friends to describe my character, I only heard the opposite: energetic, sincere, open-minded for other's opinions and a "sharer". Why did I then find it so difficult to let my true self be seen at work? The first two managers I worked for told me that I was too overpowering and they compared me to a happy puppy with a wagging tail. My reaction to this was to put on the brakes because ambitious though I was, I was eager to grow. In my own way, I took the advice on board and adopted a more serious attitude. It became almost impossible for me to smile. I toughened my attitude even more, leaving my own feelings out of it. I played around with this process until I got a French manager who challenged me to think more "out of the box" and bring more equilibrium into the team. But in the meantime I had forgotten how to "wag my tail".

This was an important turning point for me because not only my enthusiastic ideas were pushed away but also my jolly persona. The woman that also dared to trust her own feelings ("head & heart"). Here began a remarkable process to dare to be myself again and those experiences I will gladly share at another time. I recently asked my customers from the last few years if they would describe my characteristics in a few words. The result? Happily surprised that everybody responded and that they really seemed to know me. No big difference between private life and work. Concerning myself, the difference is clearly not much and that is a good feeling. If I feel I cannot be myself in an organisation then I know that we are not a match; but that is not bad because happily, we are all different. Would you also like to know how great or small the difference at work or home is for you? Maybe it is also a good idea to ask your colleagues and close friends to describe you in 3 key words. Who knows, it might give you new insight, just as it did for me.

Moniek van Rheenen-Schreurs

  • Family moment with my niece and me