The Best Piece of Career Advice No-one will Ever Give You: Ditch the Metaphorical Suit
It seems there are lots of ‘rules’ on the road to career success.
Work harder than everyone else. Make life sacrifices. Suit up. Network like a demon. Be an extrovert. Don’t be too wild with your ideas. Avoid ‘different’ clothing. Fix your weaknesses.
We are taught that ignoring these rules is a career no no, which will send us straight to the back of the queue when it comes to career progression and promotion. It’s much safer to fit the mould.
But what if you want work to feel like play and believe in a work/life balance?
What if wearing a corporate uniform of sorts just doesn’t feel like you?
What if networking and being the loudest person in the room makes your introverted self want to vomit?
What if you’re an ideas machine or someone whose wardrobe is an expression of your creative self?
What if you’re much more interested in putting your strengths to work than directing your energy toward things you aren’t naturally good at?
The truth is that if adhering to rules like these means we compromise who we really are – contorting ourselves to fit someone else’s idea of what’s right – we’re never going to perform to the best of our ability or be at the top of our game.
From my years of coaching, what’s clear is that those who are most successful and happy in their work approach their career on their own terms – whatever that means for them. They do what feels good, whether that’s wearing a casual jacket and chinos or fuchsia pink in a sea of black suits; challenging the status quo with a leftfield creative idea or finishing at 5.30pm to pursue their passion for ballet, painting or athletics.
When we embrace who we really are at work we exude personal confidence, which studies suggest has more influence on career success than talent, hard work or education. It makes us more likely to be admired, listened to and have more sway over group decisions.
So ask yourself, are you are playing to a script for success that is dictated by other people? If you are, consider taking off that metaphorical suit to bring your true and best self to work. It will feel a lot more like fun and your career trajectory will likely thank you for it.