Are you seeking authenticity or approval?

Your career may get its start on what others think of your credentials or how you look; but career longevity depends on taking personal responsibility to develop and maintain credibility, competence and confidence in the professional world(s) you travel in over the course of your work-life journey.

Each new job (we will all have 5 to 10) will bring you to a crossroads. In choosing which skills you will use and develop, what you will achieve, and in how you will be perceived. Will you “fit in?”

For most of us, the first few weeks or months of a new beginning bring up feelings of confusion, doubt and disorganization. If you are not confident in your abilities and skills (your authentic self), then rather than this being a period of a natural transition where you are establishing credibility, developing working relationships, and “settling in,” you may fall into the trap of acting in an artificial way. You may put too much emphasis on what others might think or be too eager to conform. In other words, you risk being seen as someone seeking approval rather than someone acting authentically.

An everyday example of seeking approval while we master a new role or job can be not contributing an idea at a meeting for fear you will be told “that won’t work,” or not asking a question because you don’t want to look “dumb” in front of new colleagues or potential clients. Seeking authenticity in that meeting would be demonstrating that you are communicating an idea or asking a question that projects knowledge, openness to learning (and listening) and a genuine interest in achieving the organization’s (or client’s) goals.   The manner in which you conduct and present yourself when you start a new role is often at least as important as what you actually say and to. When you come from authenticity, you project confidence and strength, even if you are still learning the ropes.

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