Monday, May 13, 2013

Does your Organization Allow You to Fly Your Freak Flag?



I had the pleasure of attending an awesome keynote at the SHRM-Atlanta Annual Conference a few weeks ago.  I am a new groupie for the Talent Anarchy team of Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt.  The keynote title was, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships.   They went over 6 laws of social gravity and how they help build relationships, but one really stuck out for me.

Jason and Joe spoke about being your authentic, genuine self...ALL THE TIME.  The theory being that IF you are your authentic self all the time, which means at work and play then you will be more productive and more creative and you will build better relationships. Jason and Joe say, "Fly your Freak Flag," in other words be your authentic self.

It was a timely message for me as with so many professionals, you come to work in your "professional demeanor" as that what has been expected in most organizational cultures.  I have been going through a HUGE discovery process over the last 6 months, and I have been trying to reconcile the Professional Cathy with the Personal Cathy.  It has taken me all year to realize that they are the same person and they SHOULD be the same person.

My story is not unusual.  I am an Atlanta born, proud southerner.  I knew at a very young age I wanted to be a "business woman."  In pursuit of that dream I went and earned 2 degrees and worked in some great companies.  In those companies I worked with a predominately white-male management team.  So, I adopted some of those aggressive, dominating behaviors as I wanted to be successful.  Then I landed in HR where those behaviors are not popular and neither is being a loud, opinionated southerner.  So, what I did for many years is try to tame that inner Scarlett/Martha Stewart so that I didn't' ruffle any feathers or make any waves.

Fast forward to today, I am still all those things but add tattoos and wild hair to the mix.  I have learned to tone down the "Freakiness" in some situations (Board Meetings) but I am, who I am.  As my friend Eric Winegardner with Monster said in his SHRM-Atlanta presentation, "If you want all this awesome sauce, you have to put up with a little craziness as well."  So, today I am unapologetic for the waves and the feathers.  I just use those things to my advantage.  What I have learned is that people appreciate other people that can fly their freak flags, because secretly everyone wants to.

I have also learned that leadership is an honor and a privilege and has to be taken seriously and that it takes a lot of social capital.  Social capital is simply about relationships and I have learned those relationships are key in accomplishing goals.  It's hard to trust someone that is disingenuous or being someone he/she is not.

So, I will be waving my freak flag and proud to do so...what about you?

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