In the #beyourselfatwork Global Survey 83% shared that needing to be professional was what stopped them from being themselves at work.
(#beyourselfatwork 2020 global study, first cut February 2020, Courageous Success)

Challenging what is professional is a brilliant example of courageous success in action.  In this current working climate, it’s fascinating to watch the “professional” masks slip.  I am having conversations with people where dogs are barking, teenagers are asking questions and babies are crying.  People are sharing aspects of their lives that you’d never normally hear about.  And its not just those that are working from home.  As the pressure of this challenge persists nonstop, throughout the background and foreground of our days, we are less able to control our personas.  So, the real us breaks through!

The consistent reaction that I am seeing across all people and sectors is that where this is happening it’s being accepted and welcomed.  It brings smiles and is making work life more human…that is where behaviour is positive!  Where the mask slips under pressure and our behaviours are not great, it can cause real challenge, and upset, for both us and those around us.
With perceived professionalism our greatest blocker to being the best of the real us at work, lets challenge the need for the mask.  What makes us think that we need it?

  1. We are all making it up as we go along and fear that we may get found out (75% of us report high levels of imposter syndrome*)
  2. 100% of us feel that we have to prove our competence at work*.
  3. The vast majority of us have an internal invisible barrier between when we are at work and at home. (95% of people say that others would say that they are a different person at home to at work*).

*#beyourselfatwork 2020 global study, first cut February 2020, Courageous Success

With 67 % of us citing self confidence as a challenge, it’s no wonder that imposter syndrome is rampant.  Last weekend I read “The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse”, a wonderful gift from my birthday.  Here’s a magical quote for those at currently at home, off work or furloughed at this time,

“Isn’t it odd.  We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside”.

This time can be used to explore and build your self-confidence.  I promise you; EVERYONE IS MAKING IT UP AS THEY GO ALONG, INCLUDING ME AND YOU! So, accept it and see life, including your work life, as a creative human adventure.

How brave are you feeling reading this blog?  I will assume brave, so here’s a bomb for you – proving your competence at work may be your back up strategy for not being found out – but it can make you appear formal, transactional, clipped, insecure and defensive.  OUCH!

In my whole career observing great and incredibly poor behaviours at work, what creates success for individuals and culture is the ditching of this strategy.  It’s OK to not know every answer and when you show that you may not be right you open the door for others to be.  It’s there, in that moment, that brilliant psychological safely and happiness at work come alive.

Explore your invisible barrier.  What makes you need it?

  1. Is it because when you let go you behave badly?  (I’d suggest that if this is the case you probably behave badly at times at work anyway and control of the barrier could be making you appear either passive aggressive or impatient – sorry).
  2. Is the invisible barrier there because you don’t feel good enough so put on an Oscar winning act throughout your workdays?  You must be exhausted.
  3. Is the barrier a coping mechanism?  Push and strive at work and then flop at home?  Again, you must be exhausted.
  4. Who told you that you ever needed a barrier and when it came to their work relationships and career, were they worth modelling in this area?

We know that all of us are good at heart.  iAM shows us that.  It’s how we control ourselves and perceive that we should show up that get in the way of us really embracing and enjoying the adventure that is us.  So;

If you are furloughed – use this time to learn and become a stronger version of you – learning and development and training is allowed whilst being furloughed – so do it!
If you are under pressure at work and not furloughed – challenge needing to be professional, and right in other’s eyes and work on yourself to be the best of you through positive behaviours and compassion for others.

Our #bestyou webinars, for those of you with iAM, run every Monday (excluding Easter Monday – I will be eating eggs) at 1pm (GMT) via GoToMeeting and 4.45pm in the Sydney time zone.  Register at or text +44 07973 822752 with your email address for the link.

iAM Digital launches w/c 13th April.
Creates a bespoke set of iAM personal values, before digitally generating personalised tips on resilience, agility, inclusion and wellbeing.
iAM Digital – A 30 minute digital user experience hosted by you on your LMS, or hosted by us via our platforms.  Users review a working at home approach bespoke to them before establishing a dominant coping strategy for working under pressure.
Pricing based upon hosting and user numbers.
Contact to find out more.

New!  Virtual experience: Friday 24th April 2-4pm GMT.

Join us for a virtual experience session designed for HR, L&D and People & Culture professionals within business.
Sydney dates coming soon.
Contact us for more details and to book your place.