Are You Your Authentic Self or Fictional Self at Work?

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authentic vs fictional self

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To quote Dr. Phil:

“Are you living a life that is more in tune with your “authentic” self (who you were created to be) or your “fictional” self (who the world has told you to be)?”

Gee, I never thought I would write a post where I would quote Dr. Phil!

Are you who you appear to be? Let me explain.

Many of us who have worked for 20 or more years have changed our behaviors there to fit in, to be a more attractive employee, to get paid more, to be more valuable. We have morphed our behaviors to fit in.

I am a certified Birkman consultant. The Birkman assessment will tell you in nine different behaviors both how you appear and how you want to be treated. We are usually treated the way we behave. When the way we behave is markedly different than the way we want to be treated – issues arise. Below are some examples.

Closet Introvert

My MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) score is ENTJ. The E is for extrovert, or I behave like an extrovert. I can work a room at a networking event like a pro. I am an excellent presenter. The issue is, I am a closet introvert. When I finish a presentation or leave a networking event, I am exhausted. I am very good at behaving like an extrovert, but it exhausts me.

I have learned that if I am going to teach a class all day, I need to spend the evening alone or with only a few close friends. I am not an extrovert. I really want to be left alone.

Most people do not know that about me. I know I am not the only one who masks his authentic self in this way.

Stealth Competitor

A stealth competitor is someone who appears to be all for the common good. They are very nice people. However, they feel if they do good work, it should be noticed and they should be rewarded.

The kicker is they never have to ask to be rewarded.

Unfortunately, this is very common in the western world. Many of us were trained by our parents and society that if we do good work, it will be noticed and we will get rewarded. We do not need to ask.

Stealth competitors rarely feel they are valued at work.

Sound familiar? Stealth competitors are very common in certain work environments. By the way, there is a very good book written on this topic, “Know Your Value” by Mia Brzezinski.

Structured Anarchist

I have had quite a few clients who are structured anarchists. They appear to be very orderly. They function well in a rules oriented environment. The issue is they have to create all of the rules.

These individuals want to create the rules. They are great at creating order out of chaos. If they enter a new environment, they need the freedom to change the rules to their suit.

Sound familiar? There are a lot of you out there.

In each of these cases, the way people behave does not show their authentic self. They often are not perceived for who they are and, therefore, are not treated the way they want to be treated. The personal brand you create is not completely authentic.

How about you; are you the real you at work? What does it say about your personal brand?

Authentic Self Photo via Shutterstock

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Personal Branding Blog The Personal Branding Blog is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel, offering branding and career advice from Dan Schawbel and his team of experts. The blog helps professionals build a powerful brand to remain competitive in the job market.

2 Reactions
  1. But in branding, you should keep yourself as consistent as possible. In fact, you should just crate a brand out of who you really are instead of trying to be someone you are not. After all, you don’t want to stir confusion among your audience.

  2. I relate on so many levels to the comments about self-perception in this selection, even though I am an INTJ. I am on fire in front of an audience, fueled by the emotional interchange that takes place between an audience and I. This is in alignment with my Myers-Briggs inventory because I draw my energy from time alone – I love to write, observe, and reflect. I welcome opportunities (like reading this article) which challenge me to be authentic.

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