This past Saturday, I had the honor of being a panelist for a workshop on "Undercover Revealed: Being Genuine to Yourself and Your Career" at the Inspiring Across Generations Conference in Washington, DC, delivered by Ascend/NAAMBA and sponsored by Accenture. Why is this topic so important?
Being Genuine to Yourself and Your Career focuses your attention inward and to connecting with your truth. We are often influenced by external expectations of ourselves or old stories we hold onto that no longer serve us. This can leave you disconnected from yourself, your needs, what fulfills you. As you reflect on your career and your future aspirations, what role is passion playing? What are your passions? What if you were better connected with what fulfills you?
As we consider how we want to contribute to the world, many of us neglect the element of passion in our decision-making process. I had done this for years until a friend, who happened to be a professional coach, helped me (re)connect with my passion for developing others through the lens of their strengths, and encouraged me to apply to the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Certification program. By helping me connect the dots between my skills, knowledge, talents, and passion, he helped me see new possibilities for my life and my career. I had found fulfillment through using my greatest strengths to help others better understand their strengths so they could best apply them to improve their results and relationships.
What had changed? I had been disconnected to myself. I was sub-optimally showing up in my life and career. I had allowed doing work I was "capable of" to be a satisfactory choice. I was not noticing signs in the form of my feelings, thoughts, energy, and language, and therefore could not explore these or effectively make meaning from them. I capably performed my job and by others' accounts I seemed to be doing fine in my work and life. What was stopping me from thriving? The short answer was me.
My relationship with vulnerability was suppressing my ability to connect with myself and others. My unwillingness to and lack of comfort with revealing my true self to others was inhibiting my ability to access my strengths and to bring forth my greatest contributions through them. I was shutting myself and others off from the best of me. I operated from a deficit-thinking mindset, concerned about and being fearful of exposing my weaknesses. The reality in this is by not being genuine to myself, I was playing a losing game. By being anything other than my authentic self, I would always be no better than the second best version of myself. Happiness and fulfillment come from within. They come from acceptance.
What I was missing was the high performance, high energy dynamic that comes from doing work that fulfilled me. This type of work is energy-generating rather than energy-depleting. It comes from the freedom you feel when you are being your true self. It is born from an appreciation for who you are and who you are not, and being ok with both. In this place, you see through the lens of your strengths and possibilities, rather than one dominated by fear-based, deficit-minded thinking.
This distinction of "passion for vs capable of" is very important as we consider our choices and the possibilities for our life and careers. I liken it to another favorite distinction: "committed to vs interested in".
The story is in the struggle...and the triumph. As I listened to my fellow panelists at the IAG Conference share their stories, I was inspired by their passion, humility, and conviction. There was courage and clarity of purpose earned from years of struggle, "mistakes", "failure", learning, growth, and belief in oneself. While "interested in" may have informed their passion, conviction drove their choices and their actions. They had developed a belief in their ability to figure it out along the way on their journeys. Each demonstrated confident vulnerability in honoring their authentic self. They pursued and found congruence with who they were and how they wanted to contribute to the world.
Success is a state of fulfillment achieved from living your passion, from actualizing your truth. Do you wake up each morning so excited because you cannot wait to get to work and contribute through your strengths? If not, what if you did? What would that look like? What would be different in your life?
"Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion." - Simon Sinek
I invite you to share your thoughts on "Being Genuine to Yourself and Your Career" to further the conversation. What is your story? How did you find fulfillment in your work and your life? How might you?
Be Bold. Be You. Breakthrough.℠