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Do what you love. Now is the time

Be your authentic self

Taking an authentic selfie!
“Selfie game” — 2019

Authentic. I love this word. I have friends who tease me about how often I use it. So, why do I love this word? Apart from its definition of “being genuine, real and true”, it’s a synonym for reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and honest. I value these attributes in my life; I bet we all do. It’s how I want to and strive to live my life, and it’s what I value in the people I surround myself with.


The only time I find that these attributes disappear — the biggest challenge to being authentic — is when people care too much about what other people or society thinks, about what should do or should be.


Society’s rules for success

We are all given a roadmap for success, the things we should do — from our parents, from our teachers, and from our mentors.


There is a clear definition of what success means and how to be successful.


The usual pattern is getting good marks > stay out of trouble > graduate > college > university > good job > get married > work > buy a house > work > have kids > work > get a promotion > retire > then your children start the whole cycle over again > get good marks > stay out of trouble > etc…


If we veer from this path, then there is doubt, fear, and sometimes even ridicule.


So when I quit the job I didn’t enjoy or gave up my home to become a nomad, or even after I embraced working as a freelancer, there was a lot of judgement and continues to be fear and opinion heading my way on a constant basis!


Historical context

Baby boomers — my parents — come from a generation that struggled to find gainful employment. So when they think about work, they believe it means a steady income. When they think about marriage, they think — security. The aforementioned roadmap and the principles associated with the roadmap resonate with them; working for a big corporation provides security and stability, and the freedom to start a family.


So when they hear about someone quitting a job or starting a business, it can create anxiety as they immediately think of the inherent uncertainty around finances, the potential for failure, or the impact on being able to start a family.


Since the pandemic, those comfortable, "secure" roles in organisations have ended because of the uncertainty of the economy…so this is a new opportunity for many that previously felt trapped in the cycle of society’s path to success.


Succeeding by society’s standards

I followed the societal “should” roadmap for a long time. I gathered the diplomas and succeeded whilst working in corporations for over 26 years. Sometimes I was lucky, I had authentic leadership, and I sincerely believed in the company and what we were striving to achieve. Other times I was unlucky, working for a corporation that did not value its employees, and promoted leaders who were micro-managing and lacked integrity.


Is this what success looks like? Working for a company, we don’t feel aligned to? Working for people, we don’t trust?


It seems that some companies are revealing their true values or having them revealed due to the transparency of the internet. They are laying off interns who had previously espoused valuing them and investing in the future. They are cutting work hours whilst asking for more from their employees through virtually working. They are revealing the best and worst of themselves, and we are in the unique position to determine if they align with our personal values and goals.


It didn’t take long for me to decide that succeeding in such organisations did not define success for me.


The rules are changing

Enduring a corporate career — if we work at a company that doesn’t believe in what we believe in — is no longer the only roadmap.


People jump ship when they feel they are not valued and will no longer try to fit into corporations that don’t fit their values. I’m not talking about millennials here; I am talking about anyone unhappy in their current role. The transparency inherent in the internet and social media means that when a company makes a move not aligned to the values they espouse, it’s out there for the world to see, write about, share and judge. The same goes for individuals who are not sincere and authentic.


If we are authentic and genuine about what motivates us and what we believe in, we can find and/or build a work environment that fits us. Now is the time to figure out who we are and be authentic, even at work. It is easier these days to figure out if there is alignment in values; if there is no alignment and we are willing to walk away, it saves both the company and us - time and energy.


Imagine the possibilities of attracting a job you actually want, at an organisation you actually believe in, with people that you actually want to spend time with!


“Be your authentic self” means figuring out what that means to you and then staying true to that no matter what. It means you don’t end up taking jobs you should, but instead that you find jobs — or create jobs — you want. Because if you have to spend 40+ hours a week at a job, make sure it’s where you want to be, where you feel most valued, and most importantly, where you can add value.


Stay true to yourself. You’ve earned it.


If you need more guidance on where to start and understand what gives you energy, then the MSA is a great place to start. Contact Raj for more information: raj@rajhayer.com


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