Embrace Your True Self at Work: Identify your masks for Professional Growth

Embracing your true self at work is difficult but rewarding. Identifying the masks we don to protect fragile aspects of the self improve effectiveness and human connections.

Woe to him who doesn’t know how to wear his mask, be he king or pope!

These powerful words from Nobel laureate Luigi Pirandello resonate deeply, as they delve into the nature of human existence and the societal pressures that compel individuals to don masks. In professional lives, wearing metaphorical masks often becomes a norm. Furthermore, we adhere to established roles and fitting into predetermined molds. But what if we challenge this notion and encourage a culture where authenticity and personal growth flourish?

True Self in Zen Buddhism

In the pursuit of true leadership, the concept of authenticity and embracing one’s true self becomes paramount. This idea aligns with the principles of Chan Buddhism, which first introduced the notion of the “true face.” Within this philosophy, the real self transcends preconceived categories of knowledge. It is rooted in phenomenological perceptions, states, and emotions experienced in the present moment.

Carl Rogers view on True Self

Humanistic theories of personality, such as those propagated by renowned psychologist Carl Rogers, further emphasize our intrinsic motivation to develop and adapt to our environment.Rogers posited that when individuals are unconditionally loved, listened to, and validated during their formative years, they cultivate the ability to embrace their flexible, authentic selves. Conversely, conditional love and validation can lead individuals to construct rigid psychological structures that prioritize their need for social affiliation.

Karen Horney’s Derailers

Karen Horney’s work offers a taxonomy of behavioral patterns associated with the false self. These patterns include:

  • Withdrawal and intimidation, also called moving away.
  • Aggression and manipulation, defined as moving against .
  • Compliance and ingratiating behaviors, named moving toward.

While donning a mask can sometimes be adaptive, self-actualized individuals possess the ability to remove and manage these masks, rather than being neurotically attached to them. As a matter of fact, this practice allows authenticity to shine through – the alignment of feelings, values, and inner experiences with actions rather than succumbing to apprehended fears.

Horney referred to this ability to fully align one’s entire self, cognitive processes, emotions, and instincts as “the power of sincerity,” or wholeheartedness. When leaders and professionals embrace this mindset, they become highly engaged and effective, reaching elevated cognitive states of flow and peak performance.

How to promote True Self at work?

As leaders and HR professionals, it is our responsibility to foster environments that encourage authenticity and empower individuals to shed their masks. By doing so, we create a culture of transparency, trust, and growth. Here are a few key steps we can take:

  1. Lead by example: As leaders, we must demonstrate vulnerability and authenticity in our own actions and decision-making. By sharing our own struggles and growth journeys, we create a safe space for others to do the same.
  2. Foster inclusive communication: Encourage open dialogue and active listening within your teams. Provide opportunities for individuals to express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal. Embrace diverse perspectives and value each team member’s unique contributions.
  3. Promote self-awareness: Help individuals understand the importance of self-reflection and introspection. Provide resources and support for personal development, such as coaching or training programs, to enhance self-awareness and cultivate authenticity.
  4. Nurture psychological safety: Create an environment where individuals feel secure to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. Encourage a growth mindset that celebrates learning and improvement rather than placing blame or punishment.
  5. Encourage feedback and growth conversations: Regularly provide constructive feedback and engage in meaningful conversations about professional development. Support individuals in identifying areas for growth and provide resources to help them reach their potential.

By embracing authenticity and empowering individuals to let go of their masks, we create a workplace culture that fosters innovation, collaboration, and personal fulfilment. Let us lead with sincerity and inspire others to do the same!

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