I work in an office where grown men are afraid to grow mustaches for Movember because they are worried that their judgement will be questioned by their superiors. If I could grow a mustache I wouldn’t give a damn. Bring it on Tom Selleck.
It’s amazing how quickly things can change. For four years at college I was expected to embrace who I am as a person and to build on my self confidence. After graduation I went off to work for a giant corporate company where it sometimes feels like the opposite. My skateboard is now referred to as my youthboard, for crying out loud.
Before entering the professional workforce I was told, “don’t go in with your guns a blazing.” This is excellent advice for millennials, but when can you comfortably unholster those bad boys? The longer you wait, the harder it becomes.
It’s easy to not “be yourself” in a professional working environment. After my first year in my job, I found myself guilty of this. I wouldn’t always share my opinion in meetings or pursue challenges that might be viewed as radical or too complex. I would do this because they didn’t seem to fit in with what we normally do. How dumb is that?
There’s a reason why you’re hired and it’s not to fit in with the status quo. We’re hired because our employers see something in us. They see our ability to lead, to have fun, or to even enact change in a company’s culture.
I now report to a new boss who is constantly looking for ways to enact positive change and most of the time, being a goofball. She has been with the company for over 15 years and has accomplished some pretty amazing things. She always supports me to “go with my gut” and to make changes that are the best for our customers, even if it causes a stir internally. I’m lucky to have her as a leader. If you don’t have a leader like this, be that leader within your organization.
Integrity is important to success. In a slow moving corporate environment, it’s easy to get bogged down in the normalcy. Be the weirdo that you really are. Have fun, take risks, ride your youthboard, and show your true personality while maintaining your professionalism. It’ll make your days and your coworkers’ days much more enjoyable and productive. Let us know how you bring your individuality to the corporate office!