“But word has the court of public opinion reached a verdict, or still yet to be determined? Coz, I’m determined to be me, critiqued or worshiped”
I reference the above lines, from the song ‘Ringer’ of Eminem’s latest album Kamikaze, first because, well, I like the song and also since it reflects a sentiment that the legendary rapper shares with many a person -even in the professional settings – one I will be looking to analyze in this piece.
The sentiment of self, for want of a better descriptive, is one most people harbor; a keen desire to remain within the comfort of their natural person even in their relations with others.
This sentiment is all the more relevant to the conversation on professional life because one of the biggest aspects of professional life is personal branding; and personal branding is often a question of self and adjustment.
These days we hear people insisting on being themselves; aphorisms are dime a dozen, sculptured to inspire people to be true to themselves in all thoroughness. So, being themselves “critiqued or worshiped” more like. The general sentiment tips towards this, but how compactable is this agreeably persuasive perspective with professional life and its incidents?
More often than not, in a professional setting, you find yourself having to navigate between a myriad of personalities, often slightly conflicting, sometimes outrightly incompatible, all requiring to be balanced. How does this mindset of insisting on one’s ‘self’ interact with the need for inter-personal diplomacy in the workspace and in professional life?
More still, on the question of personal branding, what when the personality brand you require or desire in your designated professional pursuit does not tally on all fronts with your natural person? Maybe you are talkative, but your brand requires you to be slightly more conservative? Or in the more extreme case, you have certain objectively negative attributes, that may ordinarily add to the spiciness of your character, but just can’t seem to cut it with your brand or required brand? Where then is the place of staying true to self?
Well, It would appear that insisting on one’s person in all its manifold manifestations may not suffice in a professional setting. This is not to say that one has to pretend through their relationships in the work space or in their professional dealings; but a little artistry; some finesse, may be required with these things. Being true to oneself when needed is easy, being the self one needs, however, is often the harder bargain.
The wiser advice would be to compromise on the fronts that one can in pursuit of a functional personal brand. My Boss back when I extern-ed at CLB, Mr. Dapo Oyewumi (one of the most graceful men I ever met), once told us that personal branding has a lot to do with highlighting your key traits and capitalizing on them. But it would also appear that personal branding would correlatively require similarly highlighting negative/incompatible traits and nullifying them or toning down on them.
In the end, everybody is quick to advise that you be to yourself these days (it’s as deep as memes on the internet goes on a good day); this is fantastic advice no doubt – people ought to live their life’s true to their natural spirits if they hope to enjoy it. But being yourself, may not mean “being all of yourself, all the time”, at least in the professional scene. It would appear, sadly, that we cannot afford to be as brazen as Eminem.
Author: Vincent Okonkwo