8th October 2020

Being free to be yourself

4th April, 2019

Jo North

It’s great to see that the Health & Safety Executive has revised the ‘First Aid at Work’ guidance for employers – triggering business to consider mental well-being alongside physical health.  So many of us have suffered at some point with work-related anxiety and have felt unable to talk to their managers or HR about it, leading to more time off work, and more anxiety.  

So, yes, it’s come a long way in terms of awareness of the issue, but there’s still a lot that can be done to help people feel able to be themselves at work, taking away the pressure of trying to be someone else.  Self-awareness leads to feelings of self-confidence, and gives you the power to make choices and be your own person.

Of course, there are situations when it’s better to adapt our natural behaviour. This doesn’t mean changing who you are, it means being able to adapt our thinking to achieve better results; to understand our natural behaviour, and those of others, and be aware of how much, or how little, we need to stretch when the situation calls for it.

We’re complex beings and learning about ourselves and other people makes it easier to build better relationships and feel that we have permission to be ourselves. Using a personal development learning experience, such as the Everything DiSC assessment, teaches you how to be more adaptable. It’s not a tool for pigeon-holing or labelling people – it’s a liberator. It frees you up to be yourself when that works for you, and to adapt and do something different when the situation calls for it.

Potential is unlocked when we feel comfortable being ourselves.

Before you can make changes in yourself you have to know what there is to work with. Becoming self-aware is about the process of understanding yourself. By becoming self-aware, we recognise our own values and beliefs, and create new options for our future behaviour – we can learn to react appropriately and choose our response to events and emotions. The more self-aware we are, the more we feel comfortable to convey our thoughts and ideas confidently and justify why we believe a particular decision or idea is the right one.

I know this from personal experience.  I used to work in a male-dominated sales environment in a large IT company and I accompanied my boss to many meetings. Quite often, I felt fearful of speaking out in those meetings.  This led to an unhealthy pattern – time after time, I felt that I just couldn’t be myself for fear of looking stupid.  This led to a huge amount of stress and self-loathing, stomach-churning mornings getting ready for work and, consequently, a slump in my performance. Several meetings with my bullying boss, trying to iron out what was happening, didn’t help and I was soon signed off with work-related anxiety, which as we know, leads to more anxiety.  Not a happy place.

After time off to recover, I decided to leave the industry and was introduced to behavioural profiling and the work that I do now.

Working with Everything DiSC has opened up a new world for me at work. I now have a voice –one that I need to quieten at times. I feel so totally able to be myself, and I quite like me, actually!  With permission to be myself, I have so much more to give, freely and comfortably, and so much more energy and drive! I also find that I’m listening to, and, learning from others. It makes going to work something that I want to do.  I’m thriving, not just surviving.

Jo North

Jo North works with organisations to help them make the most of their employees using simple, yet powerful and practical models that empower team members to be the very best they can be at work, whilst remaining true to themselves. Thriving through self-awareness is Jo’s passion so that every employee can reach his or her full potential and be happier at work and in life. www.itda.com

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