To quote Dr. Phil
Are you living a life that is more in tune with your “authentic” self (who you were created to be) or your “fictional” self (who the world has told you to be)?
Gee, I never thought I would write a post where I would quote Dr. Phil!
Are you who you appear to be? Let me explain.
Many of us who have worked for 20 or more years have changed our behaviors there to fit in, to be a more attractive employee, to get paid more, to be more valuable … We have morphed our behaviors to fit in.
I am a certified Birkman consultant. The Birkman assessment will tell you in nine different behaviors both how you appear and how you want to be treated. We are usually treated the way we behave. When the way we behave is markedly different than the way we want to be treated, issues arise.
You Are an Actor
When we go to work we become actors, we play a role. We are supposed to behave in a certain way at work to fit in. We take on these roles and many times we become quite good at them. In fact, sometimes we start believing that we are the actor and forget who we really are.
You may want to check out my post What Persona(Role) Have You Performed in your Career?
So what happens when we take on a role that is counter to who we really are? I have done this throughout my career and I can tell you it usually results in burnout and exhaustion.
Let me give you some examples.
My MBTI score is ENTJ. The E is for extrovert, or I behave like an extrovert. I can work a room at a networking event like a pro. I am an excellent presenter. The issue is, I am a closet introvert. When I finish a presentation or leave a networking event, I am exhausted. I am very good at behaving like an extrovert, but it exhausts me.
I have learned that, if I am going to teach a class all day, I need to spend the evening alone or with only a few close friends. I am not an extrovert. I really want to be left alone!
The interesting part of this story is I convinced myself I was an extrovert. When I went off to teach high school math I seduced myself that I could stand up in front of a classroom 30-35 hours a week and teach. I tell this story on the podcast episode From High-Tech Training to High School Teacher, and Why I Left. [Podcast].
Most people do not know that about me. I know I am not the only one who masks his authentic self in this way!
A stealth competitor is someone who appears to be all for the common good. They are very nice people. However, they feel if they do good work, it should be noticed and they should be rewarded.
The kicker is they never ask to be rewarded.
Unfortunately, this is very common in the western world. Many of us were trained by our parents and society that if we do good work, it will be noticed and we will get rewarded. We do not need to ask.
This is very common with women in the professional world. Remember back to 2014 when CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, spoke at a Women’s Conference and said:
“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,”
He also said that not asking for a pay raise created good karma.
Ain’t that a bunch of horse manure?
Stealth competitors rarely feel they are valued at work. Why might you ask? No one knows how to reward them or what makes them feel valued.
Sound familiar? Stealth competitors are very common in certain work environments!
By the way, there is a very good book written on this topic – Know Your Value by Mia Brzezinski.
I have had quite a few clients who are structured anarchists. They appear to be very orderly. They function well in a rules-oriented environment. You can spot them because when they dress, every piece of clothing is in place. If they have hair, every follicle is in its proper place. When they speak they are very precise in the language they use. They appear extremely orderly and love rules.
The issue is they have to create all of the rules!
These individuals want to create the rules or at least be able to change the rules. They are great at creating order out of chaos. If they enter a new environment they need the freedom to change the rules to their suit!
Problems arise when they have fixed all of the problems and now the boss wants them to run things or as I like to say, “start turning the crank.” They get very bored and after a year moves on.
These individuals commonly have been placed in environments where things are predictable when what they really want is a problem to fix. The problem is no one knows that. I have worked with several of these individuals to ask for problems to solve.
Sound familiar? There are a lot of you out there!
For More: Can Can Tim Repurpose His Career? Part 2 of 4 [Podcast] (Tim is a structured anarchist)
What Role are You Playing
In each of these cases, the way people behave does not show their authentic self. They are playing a role.
They often are not perceived for who they are but for how they behave. Therefore, are not treated the way they want to be treated.
I can honestly say that in my 22 years at IBM I became an actor. I became someone who I was not. I was a REALLY good actor and I was very well compensated. On the other hand, it was very unhealthy for me in the long term to play these roles.
What role are you playing? Do you even know you are an actor?