There are approximately 112 waking hours in every week. For most professionals, about 50% of that time is spent at work. However, many people find themselves living a type of ‘half-life’ during that time. They are 100% themselves outside of work but they only allow a small fraction of their complete self to show inside the workplace. Now, I am not suggesting that the idea of a professional divide between work and personal life should be ignored. Indeed, it’s necessary. What I am attempting to describe is what happens when the line for that divide becomes so broad that you begin to leave all your personality and passions at home. It doesn’t take long before the absence of the “complete you” at work begins to trigger discontentment in you and apprehension toward you from your peers and leaders. After all, it’s hard for people to trust an enigma.
But some of us have been burned. We have shared parts of ourselves; our family, hobbies, or faith; that were later used against us.
How does a faithful professional bring their complete self to work without the risk of disadvantageous exposure?
Here are a few thoughts and suggestions to help:
Accept the Risk, Embrace the Refuge– Quick reality check, there is no way to authentically be yourself without some risk. People are people. If their intentions are dishonorable, they will use anything against you; even knowledge of your parent’s recent illness as the reason a new account should be taken from you and given to them. The ability to accept this risk begins with embracing the refuge you have in Christ. He overcame death and grave; He can handle a backstabbing peer.
Connect with an Employee Affinity Group – Just about every company I’ve worked for had employee groups based on common characteristics or interests, whether ethnicity, gender, career life stage, or hobby. Joining one of these groups provides a great opportunity to share a part of the complete you with other like-minded peers. It’s also a great way to branch out beyond your team and meet employees from across the company. If you don’t find an affinity group that aligns to you, try starting your own. Someone is bound to share your interest in an ancient mariner art form (building ships in a bottle).
Invite Others to Join Your Causes – You have passions; causes you really care about and to which you devote your time. Perhaps you volunteer to deliver meals to the elderly. Maybe you mentor at-risk children at the local community center. Or perhaps you are dedicated to running races to bring awareness and raise funds to cure a devastating disease. Whatever it is, chances are you have peers that would not only like to know about it but would love to join you. Nothing reveals more about the complete you than sharing a passion to help others.