Oscar Wilde’s most famous quote, “Be yourself everyone else is already taken,” maybe the new mantra for the next generation of workers. It is amazing that he has been deceased for over a century and yet his quotes and poetry live on as fresh as anything written today. For those who follow me here on this site and elsewhere it has been a theme that I seem to be stuck on like a broken record. Playing repeatedly in my head and recently in my blog posts: be authentic and be YOU.
It seems to keep appearing in the content I read too. Jason Lauritsen and Seth Godin were just dishing on this the other day. I’m a fan of both…and for those interested Jason just published a book and Seth has one of the best blogs on the planet to go along with his catalog of great reads that he has penned as well.
Copying vs. Being Original
Enough for platitudes. Let’s talk about the topic of being uniquely you as we head to the 2019 new year ushering in with it new opportunities. First, I need to frame this with the reality that we all copy others. In a positive frame, we call it a best practice and on the opposite end of the spectrum we call it plagiarism or stealing I.P. I.P. is short for intellectual property. Remember I’m a college professor too, so plagiarism is a constant discussion for me.
Most of us live somewhere in the middle with most things and ideas what I consider influenced by others. This includes fashion, music, ideas, and for HR and talent folks our processes, rules, and regulations. We latch onto a trend after reading about it or hearing someone present on a topic and before you know it folks starting sharing and it goes viral. Maybe that’s a topic like artificial intelligence in HR or employee engagement. The point is that we all seem to jump on the bandwagon whether it be personally or professionally in human resources and recruiting.
A Few Examples of Original Ideas in Human Resources and Recruitment
Want some examples? How about eliminating the traditional review process? Marcus Buckingham lit the fuse. Or using the words AGILE or RIGOR in everything we do at work. For the most part that’s OK. Do you remember Jody and Callie from Best Buy with ROWE or Results Oriented Work Environment a few years back and everyone started to scurry to copy their ideas?
To be honest, sometimes I question where creativity has gone in the HR world. Yes, we have Disrupt HR (thanks Jennifer McClure) and a couple of interesting new conferences each year. Or should I say unconferences (as if we don’t know that’s just code for a conference with different types of programming). There are also a few interesting Podcasts out there too, can you say Chad and Cheese, Lets Fix Work or Drive-thru HR to name a few? And of course, the Workology podcast with Jessica where I was lucky to be a guest dishing on HR Certification recently?
However, on a daily basis we seem to be comfortable wearing someone else’s clothes to use a metaphor and just adjusting it enough to claim it’s not a copy. I am guilty too. Being creative causes some discomfort at times. Just writing a monthly post like Workology or FistfulofTalent can push to turn on their creative juices.
What Being Yourself and Individuality is Not at Work and Life
Bringing yourself to work is not meant to be about your bad habits either. Can you say toothpaste and dental floss in your top right drawer? It does mean being the best you that you can be. If you have a natural talent or a learned skill that can be put to good use, then do just that. Doing so also means being uncomfortable from time to time. Volunteering when not called on is not in all our vocabularies.
You know that person that showed up at your first interview with your current company, well bring them out of hiding. I used to prepare for work interviews I was going on for years. I kept thinking and fine-tuning what I was going to say. It became a sort of script almost robotic like. Well, I stopped doing that a few years ago. I bring “me” to the interview because they should get the same person on day 100 that they got on the first interview. It’s not ignoring the preparation required for a job interview, I’m just saying don’t show up to the interview being someone you are not.
So, my perspective on being yourself is about bringing the best of you to work every day and letting others see it. Be confidently you and others will find it refreshing. Businesses want the person they thought they had in that first and second interview.
Maybe being authentic is more about what your employer wants than about you being yourself. In any event, if you are authentic everyone benefits.
So, stop trying so hard to be what you think others want you to be and just be the best you that you naturally can be!
Wishing all our readers a Happy and Joyous New Year!