Getting “Prosonal”


One of the things that can have a strong impact on how awesome your work is—or becomes—is how you handle yourself both personally and professionally. As I’ve said before, it’s a tricky balance. So tricky, in fact, that it may not even be worth challenging. I mean, trying to shift between how you act and react on a professional level versus how you do so on a personal level is as daunting as it sounds. You’ve got be constantly aware of where you’re at, what you’re doing—you have to mind you p’s and q’s all the time. With that in mind, I’m going to propose something radical to you.

Don’t.

You shouldn’t even bother trying. What’s the point of distilling the personal from the professional? It’s an exercise in futility—I tried it for years. It just doesn’t work.

Have you ever switched places of employment and said to the following to yourself:

“I’m going to be a different person at this new job.”

– You, upon starting a new job…and three days prior to you going back to old habits at said new job.

I’ll bet you have. There’s always going to be an aspect of how you were perceived at work—or how you delivered yourself—that you’d like to leave behind. Nothing wrong with that. It’s natural. But it’s also useless to create a character that you’ll play at this new job. Unless you’re an actor, you’re not going to be able to pull it off.

All the World’s a Stage

Let’s discuss actors for a moment. They go from role to role, some stay in the same one for years while others diversify and portray several in that same timeframe. Consider your work environment, your track record for a moment. Have you moved from job to job? Things gotten stale so you moved on? Did you wear out your welcome? What happened?

Actors go from character to character because that is their job. It’s their calling. However, you’ve likely seen examples of “fans” of these actors having difficulty discerning who the actor is in real life versus the characters the play. This isn’t ideal for the actor, nor is it ideal for the fan. Both are bound to be disappointed or, worse, dangerous. But do you put your “fans” (friends, colleagues, etc.) in the same position by how you interact personally and professionally? It can be just as disappointing…and dangerous.

The Value of You

Ideally, you do what you do because you enjoy it. That’s what it ultimately boils down to. So why do some people put forward a professional persona when they are on the job? Shouldn’t their real, natural persona be enough? You have to let the genuine article flow through…that’s what wins over people. Not to mention the fact that you’ll enjoy your work that much more if you do.

Society places an awful lot of value on “what” you are, not “who” you are. What you are is based on who you are, anyway. Think about it…what you’ve achieved is a result of who you are as a person. No matter how you got to that “what,” it’s your “who” that guided you there. Forget about the material aspect of all of that. The real value isn’t what you’ve gained—or how you gained it. It’s who you were that has the inherent value. The ultimate value of you is based on that—everything else is built from that.

That said, why should you even be concerned about the “when” you are by putting forth different versions of “you” in personal and professional matters? That’s really just another facade…and it’s about as useless as all of the “what” you get to bring with you when you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Enter Wisdom

Obviously there are lines in the sand that must be drawn. You’re not going to go out and have a few beers during your work day because it’s how you lead your life when you’re “off the clock.” This is where wisdom comes into play. When we’re younger, we do a lot of things that we probably—nay, definitely—should have avoided doing. I’m sure you can think of plenty, so let’s discuss why the wisdom achieved only through years of experience makes these things happen less and less. Be mindful, though. Wisdom is muddied sometimes behind objectives that may seem more important at the time—such as landing that big contract or pulling an all-nighter when rest is what’s needed. Wisdom helps you land that contract without compromising yourself and kept you out of the notion of an all-nighter to begin with. Don’t bury it behind goals or priorities. Tap into it to help you achieve and clarify them.

Be of One Mind

I challenge you to skip being professional. Don’t dwell on being personal in situations, either. Instead, be prosonal. The word is simply a portmanteau of both—and note I put the “professional” component first. Be of one mind, one personality. Be genuine. If you lay it out there as yourself and without all of the baggage that comes with having to balance two different ideals, you’ll find things will start to work out better.

Do it over the long haul and they’ll work out awesome.


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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to Vardy.me and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.

Discussion

  1. Jonas on the 1st May

    Try writing shorter; try not to explain things that are common sense. I think this article could explain it’s points just as well being half as long.

    Other than that, thanks.

  2. Simon Jones on the 3rd May

    Yay for this great post! I love the term “prosonal!” I’ve run a successful business for nearly 12 years now, one which I am frankly stunned it still gives me the life it does. I’m not bad at what I do, but if I am to be honest I’d have to say I know I am not the best by a long way. But time and again my customers have said that they like me. Nobody refers to my company name, they just refer to me, and sometimes I’ve heard myself referred to as Mr -Company name- which is actually flattering too.

    I figured out a few years ago that there was no point in trying to pretend I was a slick business suit wearing type who talked in a low calm voice when in reality I’m a slightly nutty travel junky who loves getting lost ‘out there.’ The strange thing is, I used to keep my adventures away from business conversations until I realised that my customers actually liked the fact that I was that guy and not just another boring suit.

    So yeah, yay for prosonal, and thank you so much for writing this and re-enforcing a truth that far too many interesting cool people either overlook or hide.

  3. Mostafa on the 9th May

    So wonderful story!
    Thank you very much. :)

  4. Paul on the 12th May

    Very good article. It’s inspired me to be a new person at my job – myself 😉

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