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.

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Teachers Benefit from Revealing Themselves

We often blog from the library of a graduate school of education, and recently we overheard an earful. A frustrated student teacher was talking with his peers about their high school students, and we gathered three (3) main points:

  1. He’s finding it increasingly hard to keep order in the classroom.
  2. Too many students have been prescribed psychotropic medication to manage behavioral issues.
  3. He’s devastated that his grandmother is seriously ill, and he’s trying to “be professional” and “hold it together” when he’s with his students.

If we were bold enough to approach him, we would have said this:

In light of your despair regarding your grandmother’s condition, why must you “hold it together” in class? Why not share your pain with your students? By revealing your current emotional experience, you accomplish so much:

  • You humanize your authority, which can help your students better relate to you. Being able to relate to you correlates with empathizing more with you, and your feelings. And nurturing your students’ ability to empathize may be the most important gift you give them, ever.
  • You unburden yourself from the unproductive work of “holding it together.” When you can share of your self without fear, you’re more relaxed. When you’re relaxed, you have more energy to listen actively to your students, who hunger for your focused attention.
  • The more nurturing you are with your students, and the more you listen to them, the closer you may feel as a class. From here, the difficulties of “keeping order in the classroom” may become more manageable.

If at this point he hasn’t scowled at us for butting in, we’d ask him where he learned that teachers are more professional when they hide who they are.

Get this: we know a school which is incorporating into the junior high school curriculum one teacher’s plan to donate part of his liver to his father. At this same school, another teacher shares with each new class his story of being adopted, so students can understand the complexities of different family structures over a lifespan.

Pretty revolutionary, yes? To publicize these seemingly private aspects of our lives in service of educating today’s youth is a radical–and totally effective–way to teach.

It may be challenging to implement at first, yet teachers who strive to share some intimate details of their lives will reap tangible benefits.

You follow, oh student teacher in the graduate school library?

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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.

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The President Does This, So Can You

Everybody has experience with it, yet few will admit it. One of those rare individuals who openly acknowledges his behavior is President Barack Obama.

We’re talking about making mistakes.

A Daily News story about the president’s recent interview with Barbara Walters reports:

A candid Obama reflected on the first three years of administration and freely admitted he has made mistakes.

“Oh, I think probably once a day, I look back and I say, ‘You know, I could have done that a little bit better,’” Obama told ABC’s Barbara Walters.

Making mistakes once a day sounds kind of frequent, no? But then if you consider the number of minutes in a day, it doesn’t sound so bad. To be sure, it takes an exceptional leader to expose his vulnerabilities so freely; he disarms his critics by unabashedly highlighting his errors.

Should you admit your mistakes at work, too?

Yes, if you want to build strong relationships.  And who doesn’t? Think about what you demonstrate when you acknowledge your imperfections. For example, you show:

  • an ability to self-reflect
  • that you’re trustworthy
  • you can forgive yourself, and by extension, are likely to forgive others
  • strength in the certainty that your mistakes won’t kill you
  • that you can find relief, and peace of mind.

So come out at work as someone who makes mistakes. By showcasing all these positive attributes, you’re likely to draw numerous people to you.

Even if you’re not the POTUS seeking re-election, you can enjoy the many benefits of saying you’re wrong.

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Come Out at Work: With Your Biggest Insecurity [video]

Picture it: your biggest insecurity hides in the closet, sitting comfortably out of view. You prefer it this way, yet secretly you wonder what it would feel like if the world knew your inner pain. Then one day, BAM, you let it out at work.

This is exactly what Cassandra Bankson did recently, on the Internet, no less. The self-described model and YouTube guru produced a video in which she appears without makeup; points out the acne on her face, neck, chest and back; then completes her morning makeup routine on screen. The before and after shots are pretty incredible, demonstrating the power of creatively applied foundation.

“Well, showing off comes easy to a model,” we thought. And we were wrong. Bankson acknowledges at the beginning of the video:

Taking my makeup off is one of the most insecure things I could probably do.

Then once it’s all off, she confides, “I feel really disgusting,” and our hearts break for her!

Why does she do it?

We can see many reasons. One, the bulk of what she broadcasts on YouTube is make-up instructional videos, so by coming out she educates the public on how to use makeup to manage acne. Two, by coming forth with something as personal as blemished skin and the insecure feelings it brings, Bankson opens up her inner world, which attracts viewership. And three, in terms of business, the more exposure she has as a model, the more potential for modeling contracts.

About 4 million views (and counting) later, an appearance on Good Morning America, and increased confidence to continue revealing herself without makeup, she seems to be doing better than ever.

You, too, can benefit from revealing your biggest insecurity at work. Drawing people to you helps your professional development, since relationships are resources. And the more resources you have, the better off you are.

As with revealing any part of your inner life, it takes a lot of strength to come out with your biggest insecurity. Going by the looks of things, it’s worth it.

Watch Cassandra Bankson’s reveal below:

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Come Out at Work: With S.A.D.

Do you feel as listless as we’ve been lately? We’re in the throes of S.A.D., or Seasonal Affective Disorder, in part because high noon these days can look like the photo at right, and then there’s the not uncommon 14 degree morning temperatures.

Which add up to gloomy days outside — and on the inside, too.

To manage these earthly doldrums, it can help to come out with it at work. On one hand, you’re not the only one suffering. And on the other, you help those around you to:

  1. Identify S.A.D. in themselves if they’re unaware, and
  2. Understand the accommodations you may need, such as the freedom to walk outside during the middle of the day, or extra time to meet deadlines.

A depressed mood certainly has its advantages in the workplace. For example, you’re able to concentrate on single tasks, not distracted by external stimuli, and your communication style may become more direct.

Thinking about the source of this condition, we’re inclined to see our yearly S.A.D.ness as adaptive somehow. Epochs ago food was scarce during the winter, so having lower energy corresponded with the dearth of available food.

Which is to say, if we accept this condition as natural, we fight it less, and reserve our wherewithal to accomplish what’s important right now.

Ah, we’re already feeling relieved having shared this.

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Challenges to Engaging Your Whole Self at Work

A friend of ours, “Karisma,” last month attended a two-day course on lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) issues in the workplace, and left with her head spinning. What happened may surprise you.

She’s a counselor in a New York City high school, and two colleagues attended the learning program with her. We connected when she was somewhat distressed shortly after the seminar; the primary issue, in her words, was:

I tried to ‘come out’ at work during a two day training and it was a disaster for me. Internally I felt so upset I cried all the way to the ferry, obviously not a good look. I’m better now than I was, but I am still thinking about Monday and my re-entry to work.

Like many people, Karisma has preferred to separate aspects of her work life from her personal life, so the struggle to reveal her self to her coworkers is real. Still, by thinking hard about her actions and feelings in the context of her job, she’s well equipped to reap the rewards of revealing and engaging her whole self at work. Let’s look at how the events unfolded.

Karisma relates how the opening go-around began: Read more