My LinkedIn feed serves me a lot of personal stories, starting with “I know LinkedIn is not for sharing personal stuff, BUT..,” men and women showing their vulnerable sides, sharing stories of struggles of being a working mom, or minor or major achievements. It’s all good, and the posts get their well-deserved likes and attention. I find it fascinating that the pendulum has finally swung from separating our “personal person” from our “working person,” to uniting the two. My father had two different voices for his roles, and it was confusing and amusing to my sister and me, to have him in a representative work role at home, while my sister and I were helping to serve the food to the guests, or asked to sing a song after dinner. For years we’ve heard that we should or are allowed to bring our whole selves to work, but we have resisted, and since I’m old school, I still find it hard to share personal stuff with a broader audience. I had to protect myself for so many years, that lowering my guard and letting my shield melt away still feels frightening. I do share part of my personal story in my book, and I still worry about what I have done, exposing myself like that. But sure, it’s in a book, and the paper and words, and a whole world lies between you and me.
Being forced to keep personal secrets at work takes a lot of energy that could be better spent on something more productive. There is a difference between having to keep secrets, because you are afraid that you won’t be accepted for who you are and for who you want to be, and choosing to not share everything. Kind of like the difference between being lonely and being alone.
Anyway, I value the bravery of those sharing their personal challenges, to show us that we are in fact, not alone. Thank you.
This leads me to where I want to take you. In “Women in Tech, a Book for Guys,” I describe the 7 character prototypes of men we find at work. The Allies (in the middle, between the Chauvinist and the Advocates) are supportive of gender equality and they want to help. Many of them are already supporting women and minorities, without recognizing that, or how they are. Many are still worried about doing something wrong, even though the willingness to be supportive is high.
The main differences between allies and advocates lie in degrees of separation between confidence and fear, focus on self or others, and repetitive practice versus trying new things.
While the Allies will share experiences (good and bad, as mentioned above) and free advice, to inspire and make others feel more normal, they may also feel good about themselves (not a bad thing!), the Advocates’ egos have been left somewhere else. Of course, it is not until we are done taking care of our own most pressing needs, like health and happiness (joy, love, belonging, and feeling needed) for ourselves, we can turn our attention to others. Our desire to help others, may be limited by fear (as mentioned, doing the wrong thing, seeming too soft or not focused on what matters – ie business) but when you turn your focus from yourself to others, something happens. The fear melts away. It feels like turning your inside-out-sweater, right again. It just fits better. Helping others because you deeply care about their wellbeing and their health and happiness, will make you smile and automatically fulfill a lot of the needs you have.
So, please share your stories of how you are supporting a woman or a person who is different from you at work. In a time of harassment- and worse-
court cases, let’s shine a light on the goodness you bring to this mad world. Think about small and big gestures of support you offer throughout your day. Seemingly insignificant and large initiatives you take to support a person, a team, or maybe even a whole company.
I collect goodness (to share), so write here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Eva