Category: Come Out at Work

Series of posts about how to come out at work in various regards.

Come Out at Work: As Inexperienced

Try to find someone on LinkedIn who acknowledges his inexperience. OK, you can find a few, yet out of 150 million+ users, rare is the individual who openly claims his lack of practical knowledge.

Until now.

Thanks to Sir Richard Branson, we see that a dearth of experience is less of a problem, and more a path to advancement.

In a recent Q & A at Entrepreneur, the chair of the Virgin Group debunks the stigma of inexperience. He writes:

A lack of experience does not have to be a liability — it can be an asset. It is something you should play up when you discuss your ideas with prospective investors, partners and employees.

He drives his point home with a personal story:

I have always used my own and my team’s lack of experience to our advantage. In fact, at our first venture, Student magazine, we used our newcomer status to secure great interviews and generate publicity — people were excited about our new project and wanted to get involved. Our inexperience fed our restless enthusiasm for trying new things, which became part of our core mission.

Don’t you love the way he turns something potentially mortifying into an opportunity, and seizes it outright? Perhaps it’s time for you to come out at work with your inexperience.

As Branson points out, you have nothing to hide, and a lot of business to gain.

Image via

Come Out at Work: As a Person

It  seems so silly; who doesn’t know that you’re a person?

You might not guess the answer.

In a recent article called “Last of the Cave People,” National Geographic writer Mark Jenkins related his experience following the Meakambut, “one of the last cave-dwelling, seminomadic peoples in Papua New Guinea.”  With him was Sebastian Haraha, an ethnographer whose purpose on the journey is described by Jenkins as:

To pinpoint the exact locations of the Meakambut’s caves with a global positioning system. He hopes to register them under the National Cultural Property Act, so the homeland of the Meakambut will be protected from logging and mining.

Noble work! Then after witnessing the Meakambut men and women struggle for survival without much help, Haraha becomes disillusioned with his efforts. Jenkins writes:

He was compelled to temporarily abandon his plan of mapping the Meakambut’s caves—the goal of which is to save their habitat, and thus ensure the continuation of their culture in the future—in order to save their lives in the present. He says the choice was clear. He is a human first, an ethnographer second.

“Protecting the caves? What does it matter—if there are no Meakambut left?” asks Sebastian.

Haraha invokes his humanity first, and his professional role second. Which may be more profound than we realize.

Continue reading

Come Out at Work: With Your Humor

We recently taught a one-hour course on how to reveal and engage your whole self at work, and during the discussion about what specifically we hide from others, one participant said he hid his sense of humor.

A funny thing to hold back, true?

Most people enjoy laughing, especially at work where toiling can be so serious.  The participant offered that he’s shy with it because his sense of humor is dark.

Ah, dark humor. It’s defined by dictionary.com as “a form of humor that regards human suffering as absurd rather than pitiable, or that considers human existence as ironic and pointless but somehow comic.”

As in revealing most parts of our selves, we’re likely to attract some people and repel others by bringing a dark sense of humor to the job. Yet is there a net gain by opening up? For an answer, we look to the published research.

Sarcasm can be a form of dark humor, and a recent study by Ella Miron-Spektor in the Journal of Applied Psychology concludes that sarcasm enhances creativity at work.

How?

From the Occupational Digest of the British Psychological Society:

Sarcastic comments need to be actively made sense of, as they stand at odds with the true situation, such as giving high praise to mediocrity. Parsing such paradoxes by looking at them in different ways might kick us into a mental gear ready for complex thinking.

So you might kick-start your colleagues’ creative problem solving by showing your sarcasm on the job. Can the same be said for a generally dark sense of humor? We’d like to think so.

And is there a way not to harm anyone on the job with your biting sense of humor? Yes. As long as you’re working to bring your whole self–which includes your active listening skills and compassion for your coworkers’ feelings–you’ll remain aware should a teammate become upset by your humor.

From there, you’ll moderate your self, because you know that feeling free to exercise your whole self at work brings privileges, and responsibilities.

Image via

Come Out at Work: As a Student [video]

Unless you’re still pursuing your formal education, you’re probably thinking “my student days are over!”

Oh, but they aren’t.

Our student days die only when we do, so you may as well come out at work as a lifelong learner.

President Obama agrees.

In a recent interview with ABC News‘s Diane Sawyer, he spoke about his experience at work:

There’re always things that you’re learning in the job. And I have no doubt that I’m a better president now than the day I took office just because you get more experience.

He came out at work as a student! We’re all learning as we go along at work–about our selves, our colleagues, our task, the world. That the highest executive in the United States’ government openly owns his learning process on the job might inspire the rest of us to do the same.

Yet we know that hurdles abound. Continue reading

David Hockney Revealed

Many artists can school the world on how to love, and how to work. Just recently at the Brooklyn Museum we came upon an eye-opening example of how to bring your whole self to work by English painter David Hockney.

In the exhibit HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, we saw Hockney’s painting Adhesiveness, 1960, and learned that he actively integrated his sexual identity into his work.

David C. Ward, co-curator of “Hide/Seek” and historian at the National Portrait Gallery, spoke in a video about how Hockney has engaged his whole self in his work, and the corresponding description says it best:

Even though homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967, David Hockney presented his homosexuality directly, as integral to his art. While his paintings from the early 1960s did use coded references-to lovers and other gay references-the overriding avowal of male desire made these paintings a commentary on England’s proscriptions. And Hockney openly stated his intent to propagandize “for something that hadn’t been propagandized: homosexuality. I felt it should be done.”

Bravo Mr. Hockney! We’ve always loved your paintings, especially those depicting fantasy and reality in Southern California.

Learning that Hockney brings his whole self to work means there’s now even more about him to love.

What parts of you are integral to your work?

Image of BMW 850 CSi, 1995 detail via

Come Out at Work: With a Stutter

What do Samuel L. Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Tiger Woods, Winston Churchill and Aristotle have in common?

They’ve all stuttered.

So the subject in the following scenario is in good company:

Tyrone is an analyst in an investment bank, where he meets with healthcare organizations to pitch strategic advisory services. He’s well-liked, produces well-organized pitch books, and when it comes time to present to his clients, he gets anxious and stutters.

Tyrone decided to meet with an executive coach to work through his stutter on the job.  He related that the prospect of stuttering makes him anxious, and his anxiety causes him to stutter, so he gets caught in a frustrating loop of anxiety and stuttering. Lately he’s kept quiet during client meetings, a less than satisfactory resolution.

What can Tyrone do?

Because we’re advocates of revealing your whole self at work, we encourage Tyrone to come out and speak to his stutter. For example, when beginning his presentation, he may find comfort by simply saying, “Just so you know, sometimes I stutter. Thank you for your patience with me.”

Acknowledging what people may already know could help everybody focus on the content of his words, rather than how he’s saying them. And the relief Tyrone would subsequently feel may prevent further stuttering.

Ultimately, demonstrating comfort in his own skin will increase his confidence, which in turn may help sell the services he’s working so hard to pitch.

Coming up: Career advancement, meet Tyrone.

Image of Tiger Woods via

Let Out Your Inner Geek [video]

What were you interested in when you were 12? And do you incorporate it into your work today?

Maybe you should.

Our newest favorite scientist, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, loved looking through telescopes at the age of 12. Now age 53, he hasn’t stopped yet.

Spotlighted by Carl Zimmer recently in Playboy magazine, the director of the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History started out with a 2.4-inch refractor with three eyepieces and a solar projection screen. Writes Zimmer:

Tyson would run an extension cord across [his Bronx apartment building]’s two-acre roof into a friend’s apartment window. Fairly often, someone would call the police. He charmed the cops with the rings of Saturn.

His shenanigans were not without purpose. Three years later he would give his first hour-long lecture to fifty adults, fulfilling his wish to talk to people about the beauty of the universe.

We can really feel his passion for studying the cosmos. In fact he once said, “For me, talking about the universe was like breathing.”

Continue reading