How many times have you been told - or have told someone - “don't worry, just be yourself”. It's a simple, basic and powerful message. Yet we're guilty of spending much of our time trying to be somebody else - a person we think others expect us to be - in our work, relationships and in virtually every part of our 24/7 life.
The humble acorn can teach us something here.
An acorn contains all the ingredients required to grow into a mature oak tree. It needs fertile soil, watering and some initial nurturing to ensure that it will grow and blossom into a majestic, mature oak. Picture yourself, if you will, when you were the size of an acorn - an embryo in your mother's womb. You naturally contained all the talents and abilities required to make a unique contribution to others. In a sense you were - and are - a ‘never-to-be-repeated offer' to the world. You needed feeding, watering and nurturing to a stage when you could independently grow and blossom into a mature human being.
But generally we then find life's demands take over. In all sorts of ways - too many to list here - many people have been de-railed into a direction that others thought (usually with all the best intentions) was the 'right' course to take.
The most productive business team is one that comprises what I call a ‘mosaic' of unique, discrete individuals, with a team leader who's skilled in maximizing the individuality of each member for the benefit of the team's goals. These team members are encouraged to be themselves and to apply their natural skills, talents, capabilities and creativity to the needs of the team. This forms the basis of potentially highly powerful and successful workforce.
The excellent manager also encourages his / her people to create experiences away from work where they can just be themselves. When you lose yourself in an interest you love you find yourself. In other words, when you get so absorbed in an enjoyable interest that you forget time and place, the real ‘you' comes alive.
You express all your natural talents and abilities in ways that are totally within your control and solely for your personal satisfaction. For me, that feeling comes when I sing in a choir. It's the most natural form of stress management. More importantly, such experiences positively lift your self esteem, self belief and sense of self worth. This has a ripple effect that spills over into every part of your daily life, including work. Such experiences are essential to personal health and wellbeing.
Imagine working in an office where all the staff are experiencing those sort of benefits in their lives!
You can't be yourself all the time, but you'll burn out if you don't be yourself at least some of the time. I use the yin yang sign in my business logo for two life-sustaining reasons - it symbolizes the need to generate new energy “in”, to replace the energy ‘out ‘that we are increasingly burning in a stressful world. It also symbolizes the idea of “complementary opposites” balancing each other - i.e. having enjoyable personal interests (recreational) that harmonize with ‘complementary opposite' workplace experiences.
Finally, a word about recreation. It's true meaning becomes clear when you drop the first two letters (re), leaving the word ‘creation' . What do you do for ‘creation'? What interests creatively express the inner you…the you that you enjoy being…the time when you can just be yourself.