During a coaching session, a client once mentioned how she would need to have her ‘game face’ on for an upcoming interview.
Why do you need a game face? I asked. That sounds like hard work.
What? You mean I can just be myself, she asked.
We both laughed.
It’s important to be authentic of course, but no one ever said it was easy.
Imagine what the world would be like if we all just told the truth?
If you’re looking to make positive changes in your career, it’s so important to let go of the need to control how you’re received.
There’s an innate drive within us to please others to protect ourselves from being thrown out of the tribe, but we need to resist the urge to mould ourselves into what we believe others want to see. Otherwise we’ll never be free.
To accept the promotion. Give up the successful law career to become a teacher. Start the business of your dreams. Or ask for the long-overdue pay rise.
Our success depends on our willingness to detach from how others might view us so that we can be who we are.
Truthfully this is more of a constant shedding than an instant change but you can make shifts surprisingly quickly.
Here is the advice that’s helped me the most:
1) Take nothing personally.
This is a nugget from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements and there are few things I’ve learned that have been more valuable.
When you release yourself from reacting personally to events. ‘The interviewer hated me.’ ‘My boss didn’t ask for my opinion in that meeting.’ ‘My friend didn’t call when I was sick.’ You let go of the stories you make up in your head, most of which are not true but which cause enormous suffering.
By the way, I still catch myself out with this so remember, humans are meaning-making machines and we are hard-wired to make up stories, so don’t be hard on yourself. The main thing is to recognise when you do it and then let it go.
2) Focus on how you show up instead.
How can you show up authentically and let yourself be seen? Which action will make you feel as though you’re doing the right thing by yourself.
When I say this I don’t mean that you should go and blow off your commitments without a care. It’s more about behaving in a way that’s in alignment with your values and true self.
For example, if you know that being honest about the challenges in your previous role is going to make you feel like less of a fraud in the job interview then tell your truth. Let go of the need to control the outcome. Newsflash: you can’t do that anyway!
There are so many situations where letting go of the need to control what others think can lead you into a greater connection to your true self.
Like networking situations that cause worry and stress over whether you are good enough.
Or social events. Or apologising when you feel you need to. Or telling someone how you really feel about them.
When you practice this way of being, it will change how you approach everything.
You will feel braver and truer.
Admittedly it’s not the easiest option out there.
Far easier to put on your game face, though in the long run a lot more costly.