It’s Taken Me A Long Time To Learn It’s OK To Be Me!
I’m always encouraging my clients to relax and allow their personalities to shine through at work. But it took me a long time to reach that realisation for myself …and be me!
Like most leaders, I spent my time focusing on anything and everything that landed on my desk. Yet that approach was draining my energy, leaving me feeling less than motivated at work.
My first 12 months in business
After my first 12 months in business, I sat down and reflected on what I’d achieved.
I’d worked with senior leaders in NHS Acute Trusts, Ambulance Trusts, Local Authorities and both established and start-up businesses. I’d partnered with two professional institutions and two event organisers to provide leadership workshops across the UK and with Salford University to create an online learning programme enabling leaders to hold coaching conversations to nurture individual performance and growth.
But when I looked back in my diary, I realised I’d also been involved in activities that didn’t feel like achievements or give me a sense of fulfilment. Sure enough, I’d been involved. I’d done something. However, none of it made me smile.
Many of these things I did in my first year kept me busy and my diary full, but on reflection, I realised this was just ‘stuff.’
Not being me resulted in no energy
Sure enough, I could do it. But it didn’t energise me, and therefore didn’t make my list of achievements or things that gave me a sense of fulfilment.
Of course, some of the things I was focusing on did light me up and energise me. But I didn’t have a way to identify how to focus on those tasks.
Time to understand the real me
When I finally got serious about understanding my values, strengths, and purpose, I also got clearer about which tasks were working for me and which ones were draining me. I reflected that if I wanted to do something, I needed to fully commit, which involved stepping away from certain people and projects and contracting others to complete certain tasks on my behalf.
The difference in how that made me feel, and perform, was like the difference between night and day.
When I made these changes, even though my diary was initially less full, I had much more energy to be present, connect with people and bring my whole self to my work. Exactly what I encourage my clients to do!
I made a commitment to myself
I made the decision to only spend time on activities that energised me and where I could add value. Basically, if I wasn’t going to feel it, and be energised by it, I wasn’t going to believe in it and therefore wouldn’t perform at my best.
Nearly four years into my business, and its working great!
I’m much more comfortable with who I am. I no longer feel I have to do something just because I can, or behave, dress or speak in a certain way if it saps my energy. It’s more important that my energy is present with people, so I can give the best of myself, and be the real me!
Who is the real you?
We’re naturally ourselves at home, among our family and friends. Yet as soon as we step into the workplace, we sometimes feel like we have to put on a new persona to fit in. Of course, behaving exactly as you do at home isn’t really the answer either, so how do you bring enough of you to work while still remaining professional?
The answer lies in focusing on self-leadership; and discovering your values, strengths, and purpose. They’re the things that drive and guide you, and when you align them with work, that’s when the magic happens.
Know your values
Understanding yourself requires digging deeper into why certain things matter to you. This is where you get to understand and identify your personal values. We all have a set of personal values that determine how we approach life and what makes us happy – and unhappy.
Those values can change and shift over time, but they are always at the very core of who we are. Identifying your values gives you valuable insight into what drives you, and helps you make better choices that energise and uplift you.
When you live in accordance with your values, you’re authentically you. The more you align your actions with your values, at work and in your personal life, the happier you will become.
Know your strengths
Another vital piece of the puzzle is understanding your strengths and knowing how to choose tasks that play to them. When your work is made up mostly of tasks that align with your values and your strengths, you’ll add more value as well as feeling energised.
Are you always the first person to come up with new ways of doing things? Perhaps your focus should be on continuous improvement projects or innovation in your organisation.
Are you particularly empathetic and tuned in to how others feel? Perhaps your focus should be on customer delight and employee engagement.
Whatever your strengths are, taking on more work that’s aligned with them and stepping away from work that doesn’t use any of them will help you add real value to your organisation.
Time for you to reflect on your values and strengths
Take some time now to write down three words that you feel define your values. Integrity, Respect, Honesty, Efficiency, Boldness… any three words that describe how you want to live your life.
Now reflect on your strengths. What do you excel at? Are you a clear communicator, a great persuader, or a number crunching genius? Write down your top three strengths.
Looking at the two lists, how can you align them with your work? Is the work you’re doing now matching with them? Is there friction between the work you’re doing and your own personal values and strengths?
Your values and your strengths drive your purpose
Since I chose only to do work that aligns with me and my values, my business runs more smoothly than ever before. I see the same thing over and over with my clients. When they align their work with their values and strengths, they get better results.
If you can’t believe in and align yourself with the work you’re doing, then you can’t deliver exceptional results. When you fully understand what’s driving you, it’s easier to take action to divert your time and your energy toward what matters most to you.
My online programme ‘Find the Real You’, helps you align your strengths and values to your work. Further information about the programme is available here.
After working with me on the programme, you’ll understand your own values strengths and purpose. As a result, you’ll be able to take action to focus on what matters to you.
Andrea helps you regain your inner confidence so you can be the real you, and flourish as a leader. Get her FREE Inner Guide to Finding the Real You and take the time to reflect, improve your awareness and improve your confidence.