Have you ever thought about how many roles we are given just for being born? As soon as we start breathing, we are expected to act in a certain way. According to your culture, your gender, your family values, even your family’s economic status.
When we start to work, this happens too. We are hired to fill a need in a company, and we are expected to comply. And while many jobs reward creativity, they don’t want you to be too creative, or too different from the company culture—and this is when we start to mimic and play by the rules, especially when we do not feel like we fit into them. I used to be a great example of that, and basically, I did it out of fear of being caught and exposed as a fraud.
Throughout many years of corporate jobs, I had this pervasive feeling of not being who they wanted me to be, and to clarify it didn’t have anything to do with my credentials or my experience, it had to do with me. With who I was. I have always been fast to accomplish tasks. While everybody else would take much longer, I used to think I was missing something crucial and would then spend lots of time looking for the “mistake” (which didn’t actually exist). And as I am quite literal in my understanding of people, the subtle hints of emotions are invisible for me, so when people played office politics, I felt totally out of place. I couldn’t understand the power games that were played underneath, and sometimes I ended as a pawn in somebody else’s’ board.
I have learned tools that have allowed me to change all of this, and to navigate with ease in the corporate world, helping others along the way. Here are the most dynamic tools I’ve learned and operate from:
Who are you being? Are you copying your boss, your mom, or your third-grade teacher when you became the person looking back at you—you know the one you hardly recognize? If you cannot recognize yourself, it is likely you are not acting like yourself, but rather as a version of somebody else. And the good news is, it doesn’t matter who you are copying, but you can stop doing it by asking a few simple questions. If I was really being me, what would I do here? What is true for me in this situation? And you might be surprised by the fun and the ease that might start appearing in your everyday life.
What if you are not wrong? Many of us have this gnawing feeling that we are intrinsically wrong. What if that is just plain wrong? In my years of experience, I have never found anyone who was as wrong as they thought they were. When we are playing the role of being wrong, we spend so much energy and time looking at what we could fix, and what could be wrong that we don’t live our lives, instead we spend all our time examining them. So, please, first of all, stop judging yourself, and instead, look at what choice created the result you don’t like. Then, ask yourself: If I could change anything here, and couldn’t fail, what would it be? And start considering the sense of not being wrong. What excites you and puts a smile on your face? And if get a result you don’t like, ask again, what can I change here? What else is possible here that I have not yet considered?
Do you choose your roles? It’s perfectly ok to play a role when necessary, but sometimes we feel that there are roles we play because we have no choice. What if we did? Would you be willing to try something different? Just acknowledging you are playing a role allows you to own the part, and then you can use it to create your life instead of being a bystander waiting for life to happen. What if you indulged in creating a difference in the roles you are playing for three days? Ask: if I could choose anything that I wanted here, what would it be? If I had a greater option than this, what would it be? And let your imagination loose. You could even find yourself having fun where you never considered it possible.
We are trained to think that things happen to us and that we have to fight or surrender. That there is a “right way” to do things and that anything different is just plain wrong. Well, the good news is that we can change that, to reflect our unique difference. So next time, consider asking these questions, just play with them, and maybe you will start creating your life in a way that works for you, in any situation.
About the Author: With over 20 years of experience in executive roles within world class corporations, Elena Blanco is a skilled communicator and negotiator. She has created and lead high-performing teams and successful business strategies both in the public and private sectors. She is an entrepreneur, with an international practice where she coaches others on how to change their lives for the better. She is a Being You facilitator, a special program of Access Consciousness, and a business coach with an MSc. in Economics. Her unique combination of corporate experience, coaching and entrepreneurship, along with her passion for creating a greater world, gives her the capabilities to empower others to create more in their lives and businesses.