The £$ Power of Making Your Customers Cry

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

”Businesses Lose $75 Billion Due To Poor Customer Service.”

This stat, quoted in a recent Forbes article about a report by New Voice Media, shares that the cost of poor customer service is up a massive $13 billion since the last report in 2016.

I recently experienced such a shocking attitude in a restaurant that it actually made me cry.  First time ever, and I can’t even blame it on too much wine! 
As a Brit, I am generally quite forgiving and have a wide threshold, giving people a chance to do well and make things right when my experiences aren’t up to scratch.  But now and again you come across such shocking coldness, rudeness and apathy that you can’t help but raise it! 
Apparently “serial switching” (customers switching due to poor customer service) is on the up, 67% of us do it, and it has increased by 37%.  The Forbes article discusses the fact that brands and companies need to do more than just offer the best product at the best price.  To really compete they need to create “the positive, emotional experiences that drive customer loyalty.” 
My experience of poor customer service is generally with people rather than product.  You either get the selfish, moaning, negative unprofessional person or the arrogant, cold, challenging, defensive person.  In my recent tearful evening, the service had been so poor throughout the meal that I decided to speak out and asked for the manager…only for the manager to behave like the latter described here.  Cold.  Defensive.  I was so utterly shocked and flabbergasted that I couldn’t pay and get out of there fast enough!  I’d never name the establishment here – that’s just unprofessional – but the experience has really opened my eyes to the acute challenges in some human beings and their utter disconnection with emotion in other people.  Especially their customers!

In the New Voice Media survey, 86% of customers surveyed said that if there was a positive emotional connection with a customer service agent, they would be willing to continue to do business, only 30% felt that companies currently do that. 

The importance of a positive emotional and human connection is highlighted:  “Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion.” Creating an emotional connection in any environment and especially a customer one is incredibly easy, even with the most angsty of customers.  I’ve listed Courageous Success’s top tips below for creating one.  Ultimately, we know that being authentic, opening your gate and letting your guard down with genuine compassion and like for another person will win them over.  Even if they hate your product, they don’t have to hate you!
I know that some of you will be desperately trying to find out who made me cry – lol.  Rest assured that the universe gave me an incredible example of the worst in not being yourself at work that I have ever experienced.  And that’s useful!
Top tips to create emotional connection at work & with customers; 

  1. Remember what you are there for.  To make money and make people happy.  You’ll make more of the former if you focus on more of the latter.
  2. Show people that you like them.  Mean it.  People are always good, from an iAM Values perspective.  See through the challenge and complaint and don’t make this about you or blame others for a challenge.  Be open and listen.
  3. Most of us don’t enjoy conflict.  When we create it,  most of the time we just want to be heard, be sympathised with and be reassured.  So do just that.
  4. Deliver whatever you do as if it were for your most favourite person in the world.  Whether you answer the phone, open doors, drive a taxi, lead a factory, do the accounts.  Do it at your very best and make it your mission to make those around you even happier.
  5. Deliver specialness.  Practice asking people about themselves, rather than making the conversation about your experiences.  This is not a battle or competition that you have to win.
  6. Just be yourself, use your natural self, the same person at work as at home and only interact with people as you’d love to be interacted with. #beyourselfatwork
  7. Consider: what is my personal impact on others? What am I radiating to others?  Am I connecting positively and emotionally with people? 

Psychology research tells us that giving social support makes us feel good too!  We get greater brain benefits from giving than receiving – our brains are wired to feel rewarded more for magnanimity and selflessness than for meanness and selfishness.  


How Blurred are Your Lines?!

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

”65% of us check our email whilst on holiday.”

The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) have recently asked  “is working while you’re on holiday fast becoming the new normal?”, after conducting a survey into summer working habits.
The Institute’s new research found that “65% of respondents check their work emails at some point whilst on holiday, and 75% have said they’ve taken or made a work call whilst on leave. Unsurprisingly, most senior leadership teams check their emails on holiday (81%).”

With the rise of our dependence on technology, we all seem to want to keep connected.  The results of another study, released this week by the University of West England, has led to the call that commuting time is included as part of the working day, due to the amount of work completed during this time. This connection can be great for keeping up with friends and relations –  but do we all need to be connected to work 24/7?  A rising trend; the line between work and home life becoming blurred.

The ILM research also asked bosses their view; 96% of bosses don’t expect their staff to check emails on holiday and 64% actively discourage it.  So, if this is the view of bosses, where is the pressure coming from that means so many people stay connected to work?  Is it pressure that we put on ourselves thinking that it is the ‘right’ thing to do, what we feel is ‘expected’?

Gallup estimate that 31% of us are stressed and 24% of us are suffering from tiredness or burnout.  It’s been reported that the UK have some of the longest working hours, but productivity lags behind other countries.  Feeling that we have to be permanently ‘on call’ can’t be good for energy levels or well-being, so won’t help these stats improve.


As humans we all want to fit in, be liked and succeed, leading us to follow the ‘rules’ and conform to what we think is the ‘right’ thing to do.  We then spend time and energy worrying whether we are doing the right thing or not, inefficient working habits form and go unchallenged….presenteeism anyone?
Once we free ourselves from the feeling that we need to conform, we release courageous energy, powerfully shifting ourselves to be more creative, intuitive, better able to concentrate on the greater good and impact more positively within our workplace.
Here are our top tips for breaking work conformity and dealing with blurred lines:

  • Challenge your need for control.  Most of us use control as a strategy.  Ask yourself if you really need to stay on it whilst you are meant to be resting and recharging.
  • Habit and auto-pilot – I see many people on Linked In whilst away (that little green light) – are you checking emails and work based media as a habit?  Checking without thinking removes your recharge time.
  • Put your devices away – if you do need to stay connected, think about checking in only a couple of times a day at most.
  • When you aren’t checking in, relax!  Decide to be present, whatever you are doing and enjoy not thinking about work.  Be the master of your mind.
  • If you do need to check in, don’t see it as a burden – stress and emotional resentment will drain you – depleting your recharge.  Get on with it and don’t give your power away.
  • Ask yourself: what is the most valuable way for me to use my time right now?


Empathy as a Leader: Strength or Weakness?

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

“How can you be empathetic without being perceived as weak?”

This is a question asked in a recent Sunday Times Style article.  The business leader who responded was Clare Smyth MBE, a leading chef and restaurateur. Clare had an interesting story to tell.  Early in her career she found the culture of working in kitchens as “survival of the fittest”  and found that the best way to survive was not to show emotion,  she experienced “hundreds of occasions when I had to suck it up – it toughened me up”.   A classic case of conforming to the culture she found herself within, and a culture in which empathy would be perceived as weakness.  In her first leadership role she “didn’t want to let anyone else affect’’ what she was doing and didn’t show care or empathy towards her staff.  This approach then “bit back”, she couldn’t retain people and was unable to build a team.  She lost good people and found herself in a very lonely place.  Realising she needed to break the cycle, Clare changed her approach and “became more human, more understanding of others.’’  She admits that it took some time as, in busy and tiring roles often the energy to be understanding of others can be hard to maintain, but she was able to turn it around,  and found she “didn’t need to hide behind an act of not caring about people anymore.’’   Clare now sees empathy in a leader as strength and that by focusing on people in her business she has been able to build up a better, more reliable team;


You can lose people’s trust if you don’t give them support…. if you show that you genuinely care for your team then they’ll give you everything.’’





We know from our own research that 80% of us have a personal value around kindness – so bringing that to work should feel natural.  However research by DDI, reported in Forbes, found that only 40% of frontline managers were either proficient or strong in empathy.

And along with Clare’s testimony there is tons of research and evidence that shows that kindness and empathy at work works.
Glassdoor have recently listed the 14 companies with the best cultures, the top company as described by one of their staff:  “The leadership team really cares about the people and there is a huge investment of both time and money into the culture and taking care of staff.’’
The HBR article “The Hard Data on Being a Nice Boss’’ shares loads of research and results including:  

  • “… leaders who project warmth – even before establishing their competence – are more effective than those who lead with their toughness and skill.’’  
  • A kind culture  “can even help mitigate stress. While our brains are attuned to threats (whether the threat is a raging lion or a raging boss), our brain’s stress reactivity is significantly reduced when we observe kind behaviour…..” 
  •  ‘’A large healthcare study showed that a kind culture at work not only improved employee well-being and productivity but also improved client health outcomes and satisfaction.

This shows that kindness works.
As Clare Smyth did, it’s about breaking that cycle: managers and leaders looking beyond just getting the tasks done – to the person – a more human approach.  
This means taking more responsibility for our impact on others – making it more positive, keeping our power, managing our emotional response, getting rid of that blame culture – and making kindness our natural way of being.  

Our top tips to spread kindness everyday:

  • Be more conscious of your behaviour every day and the impact on those around you – always aim to have a positive impact.
  • Manage your emotions. Leave any frustration and annoyance at the door.
  • Give people time and pay full attention to others, drop the multitasking with technology whilst speaking to others, and really listen instead.  Ban phones from meetings and conversations.
  • See the good in everyone, focus on what is positive, even those you may feel you don’t like.
  • Invest some time every day in others – and stick to it.
  • Be a leader or colleague that everyone wants to work with!  

Smell a Lemon and Boost Your Productivity!

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

Make 54% less mistakes by smelling a lemon!

Research into productivity in the workplace, recently shared in HR Grapevine, found that people working with computers made 20% fewer typos if the office was scented with lavender, 33% fewer with jasmine and 54% fewer if exposed to the scent of lemon.  The best smells for boosting productivity and moods at work are lemon, lavender, jasmine, rosemary, cinnamon and peppermint. 
Smells! What a simple and creative way to improve working environments and boost productivity.  
We’ve quoted before the research by Warwick University that happy employees are 12% more productive and unhappy ones 10% less productive. The researchers say; ‘’positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”
We know from Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, that the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive. ”When workers are happy they’re more effective collaborators working toward common goals.’’
How’s your productivity?  Do you think creatively to positively improve your environment and the way you work?  Or, do you blame where you work, your workload or your bosses and colleagues for negative feelings and stress?
We all have a choice about how we live and enjoy our lives in and outside of work.
We’re all human and it’s so easy to blame other people or things for the situation we find ourselves in.  Similar to other strategies we employ when life feels a bit too hard: being a victim, a martyr and thinking that ‘life happens to me’, that I have no choice.  Blaming other people or things (workload, mess, amount of emails) for how we feel is a choice we make – an unproductive one, but a choice just the same.

In all aspects of life, we can take responsibility for ourselves and how we feel, and how we make others feel. Choose to be creative in making changes to feel more positive and productive in your life in and outside of work.
Lemon or jasmine?   How creative could you be to be more productive?

  • What three changes could you make to either your routine or environment to make you feel positive?
  • Get in touch with when you are most productive. Schedule your work to fit in with your natural rhythms.
  • Ask yourself, what is meaningful in what I do? And then focus on this more.
  • Identify what difference you really want to make in your role, in the company.  Make this happen.  Regularly review how you’re doing to get that positive feedback loop.
  • Create a purpose of being. How do I want to be as a co-worker, team member, and leader?
  • Self-manage your energy levels and make time for you, to rest and re-energise. Diarise breaks into your working day or be conscious of just having a moment of pause.
  • If you are a manager, are you being a role model for others around efficient working and maintaining balance? 
  • Make sure you’re not a slave to your ‘to do’ list and the feeling that you never accomplish anything – pause, step back and focus on what you are really trying to achieve, where could you add the most value?
  • Go and buy some lemons!!

Ever Been Written Off by an Algorithm?

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

The world needs to move on – the oldest psychometric test, MBTI, is still widely used globally and it was developed in 1943!!

How on earth can this correlate with the excitement & move forward of AI? Are you using your profile as an excuse, or writing yourself off because of one?  Are you really sticking to methods that were developed 75 years ago to develop your people?
The media are constantly telling us that AI is growing in importance.  Driverless cars and even fighter jets are now being developed.  Don’t get me wrong, technology is great if it advances us and doesn’t damage society or keep us stuck in the past!
In the world of Learning & Development every day we see apathy and boring methods, lacking in power, being repeated again and again as we are so enthralled by so called “smart software”.  My question is, is your “smart software” really smart and are you questioning whether it is at all?  Along with outdated profiling there are reported cases of AI or automation getting it wrong, ex Facebook executives admitting that the way Facebook was built is bad for society, and driverless Uber taxi accidents.  The fact that online search algorithms provide suggestions based on our previous searches that narrow our experience rather than widen it – giving us what we have always had, rather than expanding our experience.  We stay unawares.
What we have gained in technology in recent years is undoubtedly amazing, it has revolutionised the way we work, and used wisely and well, it really helps us.

But are we also in danger of being so enthralled by “smart software” and the cost savings, that we underestimate the power of being human?  Are our futures at work determined by a machine?

Are we all ending up being slaves to the algorithm, relying heavily on AI and software that we are collectively unaware of, at the expense of being ourselves at work?



An article in the FT earlier this year, talks about a “depressing reminder of the relentless spread of psychometric testing.”  In discussing the growth of testing used by private equity and venture capital firms since the 2008 financial crisis, it shares the view of an expert that the growth is chiefly due to “spread accountability if it all goes horribly wrong”.
Articles debating psychometric testing quote the case of a disgraced ex UK banking chairman.  When he left the business, the Commons Select Committee were told, during the investigation, that one of the explanations of why he got the job ahead of better qualified and experienced candidates was that “he did very well in the psychometric tests.”  !!
An FT article also points out that along with the growth in psychometric testing there has also been huge growth in an industry built up to help people beat the tests!
Psychometric testing can be useful in creating objectivity and removing bias from assessing employees, but the downsides, when not used correctly, can be putting people in boxes or giving them labels that they then live to or feel ‘written off by’ or seeing people as black and white, either/or – when we are all more complicated than that!
You are not a colour, number or collection of letters, you are you! 

Your Mind at Work – an Open or Shut Case?

Business Inspiration

“80% of employees around the world say they have to shut off their minds to get through work.’’

A staggering statistic quoted by Daniel Cable, professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School and shared with HBR when talking about his new book Alive at Work.
In a BBC series called In the Wrong Job, the BBC report that a string of studies “suggest that as many as 75 per cent of British workers feel they are in jobs which don’t suit them or which they simply hate.”
What is driving these stats?  Are all jobs and workplaces unsuited to us or hateful, or are we making it this way ourselves? 
Cable identifies the fact that we all have a ‘seeking’ system in our brains that motivates us for different experiences and growth, which in turn keeps us motivated.  In his book he talks about the condition of ‘learned helplessness’  discovered by psychologist Martin Seligman; “where a human or animal learns it is helpless in a particular situation, accepts loss of control and gives up trying…employers are creating learned helplessness in their workforces by putting people in roles where they can’t use their seeking systems.”
 So we are all looking outside of ourselves for motivation!!!
As humans we tend to look outside of ourselves for happiness and satisfaction…more money, better house, better job, i.e. I’ll be happy when…, and also blame circumstances or things outside of ourselves when we feel we are in a negative situation. 
How many of us look internally to shift our perspective on the situation we are in?

Do we all need to stop making it about what is happening outside of us and take responsibility.  Waiting for something or someone else to come along and change our situation is a recipe for unhappiness and disengagement.

Cable advises that “leaders must create a platform (for employees) to be curious”, to activate the seeking system of the brain. 
We disagree.


Our view is: get leaders to encourage others to create their own platforms for curiosity.    
Are you waiting too?

Here are some challenging questions for you to notice if you are shutting your mind:

  • Are you thinking about yourself too much – is there a ‘what’s in it for me’ malaise hampering your business and personal growth?
  • Are you as productive as you could be at work or do you work to a level that you think you can get away with?
  • What are some of your habitual behaviours that may be keeping you stuck?

Activate yourself and ask yourself these questions:

  • If I was truly engaged and active at work – what would be different?
  • If I was being my most courageous self at work – where might it take me?
  • How can I generate new ideas or ways of doing things that can be shared & implemented?
  • What would I love to challenge or change in my workplace?
Choose to make the most of everyday wherever you are, not just for yourself, but for others too.

Waistcoats & Winning!

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

What can we learn from the 2018 England World Cup team?!

Love it or not, it’s estimated by Fifa that a whopping 46% of the global population watched this year’s World Cup.

Forget whether they won or lost, there has still been lots to learn from the England team over the last few weeks about what makes a winning team.
Despite losing the semi-final this week, the unanimous response to the team’s overall World Cup performance has been positive – at last a team to be proud of.  There has been many UK media columns dedicated to analysing the apparent cultural and performance turnaround of the England team.  Much of it credited to Manager Gareth Southgate, described in the UK press as; emotionally intelligent, humble and even a national treasure, his reputation boosted when he took time to empathise and comfort a Colombian player who missed a penalty against England.  The hero worship has gone far and wide, not only of his team management but also his style in waistcoats, now reportedly sold out in M&S, and no doubt fuelled by “#waistcoatwednesday”!

An article in the Guardian this week talked about the team’s training, having had an emphasis on mental performance along with physical performance, an approach that, according to Gareth Southgate, has created a team “….transformed from previous incarnations.… it now comes across as a hungry, humble team, playing with lightness and joy.’’  Also backed up with one player, Dele Alli, claiming beforehand that he was “excited, not nervous,” about playing in England’s first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.  A great example of re-framing a situation in a positive way.
It seems, and many commentators are making this link, that the England team are more free and unburdened from fear….of failure, of the expectation of others, of the wrath of the manager.

Despite  the semi-final loss, the team has achieved more than any other England team in over a quarter of a century.  The most common words used about the team’s performance the day after the semi-final, along with pride in their achievement, have been:  decent, respectful, humble, no egos, calm, “a polite Englishman” – Southgate – and a “bunch of ordinary modern lads”.
All of this feedback is great and positive, and is a refreshing change on how the UK media have previously judged the English team.  However should there also be some words of caution along with the praise? Amid all of this calmness, there still needs to be a team collective fire in the belly to win, high energy, risk taking and persistence, the ability to really step up when up against it.

Here are our winning tips on what can be learnt from the ‘winning’ England team:

  • Really get to know your team mates, what matters to them, what drives them, what has shaped them in the past, iAM values can help, or encourage team conversations and simple socials.
  • Embrace failure – as an opportunity to learn and develop rather than beating yourself up about what went wrong, dwelling on what is wrong with you, and not moving on.  Failure proves that you, or a member of your team are trying.
  • Don’t take things personally – stay open to new ideas, think about the greater good rather than hanging onto your idea or what you want and not being able to see past it.
  • Be like Southgate, don’t conform to how you think you should be or behave – do it your way. A nation has taken Gareth Southgate to its heart due to his authenticity.
  • Avoid negativity – either in yourself or others, negativity breeds powerlessness.
  • Make friends with fear, re-frame it as an energy and excitement and don’t let it hold you back. 
  • Be prepared to take risks

Being Brave & Courageous Every Day!

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

“We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.” Nye Bevan

In the week the UK is celebrating 70 years of one of it’s best loved institutions, the National Health Service, we thought it would be good to talk about courage and bravery.  Nye Bevan is described as courageous in his support and drive to introduce a free national health service for all, despite much opposition at the time, from fellow MP’s and the medical establishment.  Nye stood firm in his belief, even when the costs were much higher than anticipated.  His courage has had a lasting effect, as Gordon Brown has said,  “the astonishing fact is that Bevan’s vision has stood both the test of time and the test of change unimaginable in his day.”
In the same week, here at Courageous Success, we are celebrating being awarded contracts with three global businesses, all of whom have been part of our decade long journey to help people to be themselves at work, and we’ve never given up!How courageous are you?  Score yourself (honestly!), on the statements below, using a scale of 1-10, with 10 being high. 

  1. I like challenge.
  2. I love action.
  3. I prefer flexible multi-tasking to routine and rhythm in my day.
  4. I am more ‘energetic and excited’ than ‘better safe than sorry’.
  5. I persist and stretch myself.
  6. I am not on autopilot, when I get to the end of my day I can remember what I’ve done.
  7. I embrace feedback as an opportunity to learn.
  8. I like to create and innovate.
  9. I am always looking to improve things.
  10. I am excited by being myself and making a difference. 
If your score is low – what could you be missing out on?
Maybe you find that sometimes you can answer mostly high and other times answer mostly low. What stops us being our most brave and courageous self every day?

We love this quote by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:  “The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.”
If courage comes from the heart, it’s the stuff that is in our heads that can get in the way.
We know, from taking a random and anonymous sample of iAM questionnaires, that the vast majority of us, along with the positives, use words like doubting, worrier, overthinking and lacking confidence, when describing ourselves. These negative thoughts act like barriers in our minds, stopping us having the courage to take a leap of faith every day.   We doubt ourselves and fear failure, so we stick to safe.
Courageous Success is a verb – it’s about maximising who you are and what you are capable of. It’s being braver.
The consequences of not having it? Self-doubt, complacency, coasting, watching other businesses and people do better than you – staying in the middle of the road.  Imagine what you could achieve by applying courage, grit, a hint of that gutsy, adventurous feeling every day.
When did you last push yourself or even venture outside of your comfort zone?  When did you trust, have faith and follow the clues rather than always sticking to set process?  How many days do you spend achieving very little, yet still feel exhausted and busy?  Want to change it?  Then start today.What would it feel like to step into your personal power and unleash your amazing self?

Here are our four key tips: 

  • Think of the last time you felt incredible, unstoppable, full of confidence – at your best.   
    Make a list of words that describes how it felt e.g. powerful, full of energy, daring, courageous, I can do anything. 
  • Challenge yourself at work, what have you been putting off? Now grab it and get stuck in! 
  • Keep your power: don’t let the mood of others affect you – who do you know at work that drains you?  It’s their problem not yours, leave their mood with them and don’t take it on.
  • Believe in yourself.

You Already Are Inspiring!

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

85% of workers worldwide admit to hating their jobs when surveyed anonymously, and especially hate their boss.  Gallup poll 2017.

WOW!  For the benefit of this blog I will ignore the job and focus on the boss – you!
Let me cut straight to the chase.  We know from our work that everyone, and yes, EVERYONE is inspiring when they stop conforming, proving and rebelling and become themselves.  The problem is that we are not being ourselves at work.  So what’s taking you all so long?!

In her Forbes article, Kathy Caprino (women@forbes) shares five characteristics of inspiring people gathered from her own research.  She shares;

  1. They have immense courage.
  2. They have deep empathy for others.
  3. They express love and appreciation openly, and foster equality.
  4. They are emotionally healthy and healed.
  5. They believe in collective power.

For me, this is a tall order and shows inspiration in terms of world domination.  But if you reflect on each of these five and come down to the reality of day to day work, there is a lesson here for all of us.  I would translate these five into;

  1. They have conviction and take a few risks, change things now and again and are open to the new.
  2. They talk about and show how much they care for the people in their team.
  3. They share their appreciation openly and treat everyone the same.
  4. They are emotionally mature and don’t make everything about themselves.
  5. They are inclusive and bring people in.

Is this really so hard?
No, you just need to be the whole and real you.

Here are some tips to inspire!;

  • Be the same person at work as at home, you’ll feel and come across as more real and natural.
  • Don’t conform. None of us have ‘professional’ written on our hearts!  Be informal and normal.
  • Are you playing to your role at work? If your job title was removed tomorrow – how would that change how you think about your work and your contribution?
  • If you have an iAM – have you shared your values and do you know your team’s values?
  • If you don’t have an iAM (speak to us!);  share what’s important to you with your team and ask the same of them – create a shared team purpose.
  • Book team time.  You don’t have to climb a mountain or build a raft (a waste of time), but simply being together, working, planning and focusing on your relationships together will bring you closer as a team.
  • Make friends at work. Remembering that our colleagues are funny and real people, rather than just roles, humanises the workplace.
  • If you need to have a difficult conversation, think about how you’d approach this out of work, with either friends or your kids, and then do the same with your team.

Courageous Success clients, as a result of iAM personal values, truly understand themselves at heart, and report the positive impact on their leadership as 85%.

Put You at the Heart of Your Success.

The Ultimate Work Mask!

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

Hiding My Chronic Illness at Work Nearly Killed Me!

An ex Wall St Trader, Jim Curtis, recently shared with Fast Company how he really paid the price for hiding his chronic back pain at work, as the headline says, it nearly killed him. In the article he shares; ”I was definitely depressed. You don’t realize what a toll that takes …I was more charming .. I learned quickly [to be] charming to manipulate people into not asking what was wrong with me, and because I was happy–seemingly–and the best at what I was doing, no one really questioned me.’’

Wow – an extreme version of masking at work, however, we know that being a different person at work v’s how you are at home is all too common.                                                                              

Our research shows that on average 70% of us are more ourselves at home than at work.




When we first work with clients we ask them to score out of 10 the question: “I have one me – I know who I am – I am the same person at work and at home”, the majority of people score this as low. We can all mask at work, due to fear, wanting to fit in or fit the mould, to be liked. We do it both consciously and un-consciously and choose to hide aspects of ourselves at work.

In Jim Curtis’s case, trying to live up to a perception that isn’t true, ”…(the) perception of who I was, was this macho guy; I was an athlete and I had a plan to work on Wall Street, so I did it. It couldn’t have been a worse choice.’’

A kind and thoughtful boss eventually got Jim to open up, and he shares his story to help others be themselves. He now works for a company that has a culture of  ”non-judgmental kindness that is fostering basic human qualities…”, and he advises: ”…connect and see the human side of everything, including yourself…be authentic.”

Bringing the ‘whole you’ to work has been discussed this week at the Good Day at Work conference in London (reported in HR Magazine), and been highlighted as an important factor in people being happy at work.  On the discussion panel, Jo Hunter, co-founder and CEO of creativity social enterprise 64 Million Artists said; “People often turn up to work with a certain persona that they’re wearing and when everyone does this we don’t know how to relate to each other. If the work environment doesn’t allow us to turn up as ourselves, rather than these personas, this can shut us down.”  Also, Robert Winston, renowned professor of science and society and fertility expert, shared his own experience:  “In my lab I’m probably one of the least intelligent people, but what I’ve done is create an environment where we can be ourselves… and I think that is one of the most important things.” 
We know that when we bring more of ourselves to work we take control of our motivation & engagement. Putting the real you at the centre of your success gets amazing results:

An 88% impact on your positivity and happiness!
Here are some of our top tips to bring the whole you to work:

  • Do you always try and present the perfect you?  Get over yourself – it’s a façade. Being authentic is accepting the real you – warts and all.   
  • Be conscious of your strategies.  Most of us are different people at work and at home.  Notice who you are in different environments. 
  • Stop looking for external recognition to create your confidence.  The world is rampant with the need for feedback and recognition at work.  
  • Find out who you are at heart, talk to us about discovering your iAM values.
  • Build a stronger relationship with yourself and believe in yourself.  Recognise yourself. Write a list of three or four things that make you great at your job, frame them as iAM.  E.g. iAM great at talking to people, they love sharing their ideas with me.
  • Stop waiting for others to make you happy.  Make yourself and others happy instead, in equal balance.  If you say yes to everything, what are you going to start saying no to, to make yourself happier and more effective and efficient?
  • Stop seeking approval – be honest and say what you really think. Stop trying – just be.
  • If someone really knew the real you – what is it they would know about you?  That part of your personality that you are not currently showing.  Be brave and share this part of yourself with your co-workers and team.
  • Finally encourage your business to put the following at the centre of their HR & People and Culture Strategies;
    ”Be yourself here, bring your whole self to work, it’s OK to be who you are at company x y or z.”

Follow Jim Curtiss’s example;
”If you share something and people don’t accept you for it, it’s not the right place for you. Judgment doesn’t bother you when you feel adequate. It’s when you are not loving yourself that you are not your own best support, and you end up sympathizing with the person who judged you.’’