When I was asked to start this column approximately a year and a half ago, it was done as filler. “Write a few words on careers to promote the website.” Now that people have found it, there is pressure to change.
The more that people read the column, the more people seek control of its content. In a way, it is doomed by its own success. “You’ll offend someone with that statement.” “That’s not funny enough.” “This is a serious column. Remove the joke.” The pressure is to make the articles more generic, more like the status quo.
Under this kind of pressure, it is hard to be one’s self. As a result, I have written several entries of late that you will never see. For example, I drafted one column about being kicked off the bus. Although based on the truth, I over-dramatized it for effect, and took artistic license with the plot—not a good thing. The changes to the story were too great, and the lesson was lost. It also lost its authenticity, becoming unbelievable in the end.
Okay, so what I know is that I have to be me whether I like it or not. As much as I would like to be someone else—funnier, more intellectual, more respectable—I can’t be. In the end, I am stuck with me, and so, you are too!
This is not the first time I have been pressured to be someone else. In school, on interviews, in presentations, I have felt pressure to be something that I am not—something better. Unsure of my exact endpoint, I generally stretched my personality in the wrong direction expanding a weakness instead of a strength and landing flat on my face.
Popeye the Sailor had it right when he said, “I yam what I yam.” For best results, we really do need to be aware of who we are, what we want, and what we can contribute to the team. So be prepared. At some point, I am sure to offend at least one of you. I will probably get a few things wrong. But I will always strive to provide the best information and advice that I can while still being authentic.
As for you, the best gift that I can give is one of self-awareness. When we are under the microscope and receiving continuous feedback, it should be easy to do the right thing, but it is not. In these times of high pressure, it is best to turn inward, assess your position and strengths, and then play to your advantage.
Generally, you will be able to accomplish the goals that have been set before you, but the best results will be achieved by taking a path of your choosing. I should also add that the road ahead will probably not look too different from the one behind. Being authentic to yourself means to consistently live up to your values and beliefs, remaining worthy of your reputation.