When I was on the Mothership, I knew who I was. I had a job title, I belonged to a division, I worked on a project, I had particular skills and knowledge. I had a circle of people who knew me and reflected how they saw me back to me. I didn’t really question it. I just turned up and did my stuff.
When I left, much of that dropped away. Of course, I had some perspective of myself but it was in the context of a large organisation. I certainly felt comfortable operating in that space and fitted in quite easily when working as a consultant.
However, to really be effective outside the Mothership, I was told I needed to develop a personal brand. “You are your brand, people buy you”, I was told. “Be authentic, be yourself”. Or even better, “JUST be yourself”.
Which led me to ask “Who am I?”. After all those years on the Mothership, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had spent so many years wearing my corporate mask, putting on more and more armour to protect me against the bullying and abuse, disconnecting from my feelings to defend myself against the pain, I really had lost my idea of of myself. I had become a corporate chameleon and now I had forgotten what my true colours are.
It’s not surprising, really. When were you ever asked “Who are you?” in your corporate life? How many work places value you as a person, as opposed to someone who fulfils a function or gets a job done? Have you ever heard it discussed, do you even know how to talk about it? We are not people, we are resources, employed to fit into processes and be cogs in the machine.
What I have found is that the advice was correct. You DO need to be yourself. Only then will you be able to form genuine connections and the deep relationships that will sustain you. It’s really the only way to operate outside the Mothership. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to do. It’s taken me a long time to find myself and to be comfortable being seen for myself.
It seems like a ridiculous question to be asking yourself after a lengthy career but it’s completely valid. We’ve been in the corporate machine for so many years, we’ve got lost. So now we have to find ourselves again, get back to the core of who we really are. We probably haven’t done this since our days of teenage angst, so it feels awkward and we don’t really have the skills and language to do it at first. However, it’s necessary work and, with time, we can get where we need to be.
The rewards are worth it. Being yourself will not only make you more successful, it will make life so much easier. You will find you are always in alignment and can work quickly and be in flow. And you will be at ease with yourself for the first time in a long time.