I was reminded this week in various client sessions how easy it is to get into acting with a ‘persona’ – in or out of the workplace. There it is…our trusty blanket comes out when there is uncertainty in some shape or form. Some of mine used to be ‘I’ve got it all sorted’ or ‘look confident’ or ‘be smart’. One of my biggest was being nice, pleasing and accommodating. Now I do very much want to accommodate if I can, however something used to get lost in my ‘nice, pleasing and accommodating’ and that was ME.
There are of course many different personas, some may be placating or ‘nice’…others may be more aggressive and out there so to speak. Be strong, confident, be loud, be first, sound like I know what I’m talking about, be tough, be in control, be nice, make them laugh, be the hero…the list is endless.
Thing is, the persona is essentially faking it – presenting a person that looks like you, sounds like you but is not actually the real you. What’s going to happen if you are the real you? What would the consequence be?
As Marianne Williamson said, ‘our fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us’
The persona and maintenance of it can lead to the constant picking holes in ourselves and living a fearful existence. Sometimes even paranoia, the slightest comment from someone sends us into a spiral of self-doubt and fear about what others think of us.
Trouble is, all this ‘persona’ or fakeness usually entails a severe lack of openness and honesty – and this my friends does really not bode well at all if we want to create and maintain connecting and sustainable relationships. And the persona will certainly not be a sustainable foundation if you are looking to become a high performing leader or organisation.
It sure can be tough, going into work day after day and ‘performing’. What about all those other people who seemed to have it licked? They look so at ease!
I have many clients that have said, ‘if I show any weakness everyone will think I’m not good enough at my job. I have to be strong for my staff’. Well that’s very admirable to care deeply about one’s staff and the effect on the bigger picture, however when we present a persona we encourage others to do the same. This, I suggest, in the long run does not support you, the organisation or your staff. More often than not our personas are based on a range of assumptions that may or may not be true. When we hide our humanity, we hide reality.
I challenge you to stop and consider the following about your persona(s):
- What persona am I presenting? – most of us know when we are not being real at any given moment
- What would happen if you are the real you? – there will likely be a list of consequences that your mind has ready for you
- Is your list of consequences true? – really? How do you know the future?
- What payoff are you getting from keeping your persona? – are you hiding out from stepping up or sticking your head above the parapet?
Go on, have a go at being real – at least once a day. See what happens.
Come and explore how to identify and be the REAL you, more of the time in a FREE 1:1 45 minute coaching discovery session with me.
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