Places of false belonging grant us conditional membership, requiring us to cut parts of ourselves off in order to fit in. While false belonging can be useful and instructive for a time, the soul becomes restless when it reaches a glass ceiling. (…) Anything or anyone who denies your impulse to grow must either be revolutionised or relinquished.  Toko-pa Turner

We all want to feel like we belong. When we feel a sense of belonging at work, we’re more likely to perform to the best of our abilities, more likely to thrive and more likely to stay. And yet, so many people don’t feel truly seen, heard, and accepted at work.

And one of the biggest impediments to belonging is fitting in – because belonging flows from being who we are, not changing who we are. Sadly, one in three people feel that they can’t bring their whole selves to work and that they cannot be truly open about themselves.

The problem of course is that working life can feel like long masterclass on how to fit in by ‘fixing’ or hiding the many ways we are somehow inadequate, inappropriate, or inconvenient.  The unspoken rule ‘around here, it’s smart to fit in’ exists in many workplaces.

This means that many leaders have two jobs.  We have our regular job, which is hard. And then we our second job which is even harder.  It’s the job of pretending that “there’s nothing to see here” when inside it’s a very different story.

The demands of this second job include suppressing, disowning, fighting, denying, hiding, numbing, and ignoring the parts of ourselves we feel afraid to reveal at work. The parts of us that feel unsure, overwhelmed, different, frustrated, alone, or afraid.

Psychologists call this second job “surface acting” and over time, it takes a heavy toll on our health, our relationships and on our performance. Prolonged surface acting has been linked to depression and anxiety, decreased job performance, and burnout.

The good news is that there is an alternative to this inner battle. We can all be more ourselves at work by learning and applying practical, evidence-based tools that support us stay connected to our true nature and take care of all the different ‘parts’ of ourselves along the way. I call this practice self-fidelity.

Through the practice of self-fidelity, we feel more empowered to be true to ourselves at work, liberating the most positively powerful qualities of human nature – the characteristics that make us natural leaders.

This inner liberation can be revolutionary.

Are you curious to explore how the practice of self-fidelity might support you to liberate your best qualities?

If so, I would love to talk. You know where to find me.