#74: Don't Deny Your Humanity
I'm a crier. Always have been. My emotions run extremely close to the surface—happy, sad, angry, hurt, you'll know how I'm feeling right away—and I've always been jealous of those people I perceive as implacable. I've always wanted to play it cool, especially in business. Because that's the message we've gotten, right? That the only emotion you are allowed to feel in business is the thrill of competition? That being unreadable or stony-faced is the norm, and anyone who deviates from that is "unprofessional"?
I spent years (the better part of two decades, really) trying to suppress my emotions at work. I was told to be quieter, to never cry in public, to be "cool" in meetings or in front of my employees. And I was, by no means, a whirling tornado of emotions. I was not riding a roller coaster of highs and lows every day. I just tend to get excited when I'm happy, and loud when I'm excited, and I cry easily, when I'm happy or sad or touched or really angry. I feel like I'm a normal human person with emotions that are on the bell curve for normal human reactions to situations, and still, I was told I was "too much." I spent years apologizing for daring to have emotions instead of being the stoic business person I was apparently expected to be.
Well, (and pardon my language here but this is serious) fuck that.
I am not stoic, and I never will be and I don't think it has hampered my ability to own or run a successful business (or two.) Sometime in the past five years, I just decided that anyone who felt that me having real human emotions made me less of a business person could, well, they could just pound sand. I'm not sure where this idea came from (cough the patriarchy cough cough) but it is bullshit. If I tear up when my employees impress me with their hard work, or when a beloved employee leaves us for a new opportunity, that doesn't make me a bad business owner. That makes me human. And if I get superdeduper excited when we hit a new milestone or close a big customer, how is that a bad thing? My enthusiasm and my care for the humans who work for me is part of the appeal of working for me. And if people want to work for someone different, they have that right. Not gonna hurt my feelings.
I love people and I have absolutely zero chill. That's who I am. That's what I bring to work with me every day. I'm not going to suppress that, or try to hide it, or work to appear more cool than I am. Bringing my real, authentic self to work every day is my superpower. It's everyone's superpower. Don't ever let someone else tell you that your way of showing up is less effective or "business-like" than theirs. Don't let them steal your power.