I am a pink loving, Disney princess-in-training who works hard and enjoys being involved in my community. Those things are part of my personality and part of what makes me unique. They are also what make me good at the things I do.
The fact that I love pink and glitter and dancing are as much a part of who I am as the fact that I learn fast and am a hardworking employee. In the past, I have tried to play down the bolder parts of my personality in an attempt to be taken seriously. Sound familiar?
I was concerned that being a twenty-something who wore pink every day would somehow take away from my credibility and would make people question my work ability. Fortunately, I have come to learn that I am a complete package. Hiding parts of who I am doesn’t make me more credible and it doesn’t make me work harder. What I needed to do was to learn to stop being afraid to express my personality.
If you’re feeling too afraid or intimidated to bring your real personality into your professional interactions, consider this: It’s those bold, unique parts of your personality that are going let you stand out in a crowd.
Yep, it’s true. Your personality is truly what makes you stand out in a sea of sameness. Some of the most successful women have brought their personalities into their brands and work ethic and it has been given back to them tenfold.
If you’re still struggling to figure out how exactly to merge your personality with your professional life (don’t worry — many of us are!), I have a few tricks that I’ve learned to share with you on how to stop being afraid to express your personality.
1. Personality and Personal Branding
Personality and personal brand go hand in hand. Your personal brand describes your image and the experience people have when they interact with you. Personal branding is important in the business world. Your brand precedes you and can get you included (and excluded) from things that will help advance your career.
Your personality, and being true to your personality, helps to make your personal brand stronger. A huge component of a strong personal brand is differentiation from other brands.
For example, Target has differentiated themselves from Wal-Mart by having a different level of products. Your personal brand can separate you from other employees and can be a good thing when it is time for a raise or a promotion.
2. Personality and Work Culture
While expressing your personality is important, you do have to be aware and embrace your work culture. If you work at a conservative work place, don’t come into work with glitter in your hair. There is a balance between expressing who you are (and being proud of it) while also fitting into the culture at your work place.
Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal and author of #GirlBoss, has done this well. When she was growing up, she didn’t care what people thought of how she looked and she dressed however she wanted to. But now she has weaved her eccentric personality into the corporate world.
“While I have freedom to wear whatever I want at work, I dress the part. When I’m confident in what I am wearing, it makes me feel more confident throughout the day.” Sophia Amoruso, #Girlboss
This is also true for other parts of your personality. Another example is crying. I know some wonderful people that love a good cry. But if you work in a male dominated career, try to hide that part of your personality. I am not advocating being inauthentic, but I do believe it is important to find a balance between being bold in who you are and fitting into your particular workplace culture.
3. Personality and Hard Work
Mindy Kaling, whom I adore, has done an amazing job of being in charge, but also being unashamed of her personality. In a Buzzfeed interview, she had this to say:
“I work in a male-dominated industry and they tend to have very little respect or appreciation for things like fashion. Women who wear jewelry or do their hair tend to be seen as frivolous. How would you combat this?” —Emily Grace Keller via Facebook
“I’m very sorry you work under those conditions where what clothing you wear defines what kind of person you are. I do think that in, like anything else, it’s not an easy answer, but if you’re just good it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants costume. I have noticed that if you want to wear lipstick it doesn’t mean you can’t have gone to college. Unfortunately the answer is hard work kind of excuses anything. I work with comedy writers who are much more sort of artsy and forgiving, but they’re mostly guys who wear zip-up hoodies and when I come in wearing an outfit with makeup and did my hair, you get teased. But, at the same time, it’s like, if you are just funny and good and are the first one in, last one to leave, it’s unimpeachable. You can look however you want.” — Mindy Kaling
Hard work gives you credibility in the workplace and the expression of your personality can’t take that away. Mindy has had huge success and hasn’t comprised her fun personality to achieve that success.
The same can be said for Sophia; she worked nonstop to create NastyGal and that hard work paid off. During her time as CEO of the company, she didn’t apologize for who she is and brought her personality and passion together and turned that combination into a brand. NastyGal started off as a eBay company and is now $100 million plus company with over 350 employees.
Now, it’s your turn…
In her book, Sophia also said: “I would never have accomplished what I have had I felt forced to choose between my creative talent and my business acumen.”
Don’t be forced to choose between the different parts of your complex personality, marry the two. Embrace who you are and be proud of it! Your personality has helped you get where you are and will help propel you in the future. So own it.
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