I’m pretty sure everyone has walked into a place where it felt like there were unspoken rules. It would be like if you walked into a quiet coffee shop and you sensed that you needed to magically become an introverted hipster carrying a stack of Ralph Waldo Emerson novels along with some J.K Rowling, just to have a blend of poetry and nerdiness. Not to mention, the following items are tucked neatly into a hand-crafted leather messenger bag that there’s probably only one of in the world … or so you think.
In a more relatable example, how about when you walk into work and there’s an unspoken rule that you should feel stressed, irritated and should leave your personality at the doorstep. Of course, no one really thinks to question these rules because they, well, they just are what they are! Everyone works for the weekend and hipsters work to buy more handmade goods and skinny lattes.
So, who made these rules exactly? Was it Emerson? Or, was it Tolkien? Probably not. But, even the wise ‘ol Emerson did once proclaim,
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You see, you and I make habits and follow routines when we’re not even trying to. A long time ago, somebody decided that when you go into a library you should lower your speaking volume by at least 80%. Likewise, someone decided that the way you “maintain good business” is by using jargon that no one can understand. If you’re not extremely quiet in a library, you’re considered rude, and if you don’t speak the business lingo then you might never take yourself further than out your front door.
Somewhere down the line, somebody set up these rules – whether intentionally or unintentionally, but perhaps we should ask “why” sometimes? For example, I go to work everyday in a t-shirt and jeans yet I am still considered a business professional. I have several tattoos but I’m not a dead-beat. We have a tendency to get hyper-focused on fitting into some sort of humdrum office existence in which creativity is stifled quickly, resulting in a serious lack of innovation (one of our core values here at VoiceNation). One of the greatest desires I for myself and my colleagues is to have the freedom, every single day, to completely be ourselves — how we’re uniquely designed. Of course, certain rules and regulations have a purpose and they are to be followed. However, my point is not to highlight the spoken rules, but the unspoken ones. The ones that tell you not to laugh the way you usually do because you don’t want to freak out your co-workers. The ones that tell you that when you’re at work you’re not allowed to truly express true personality.
But take heart, these perceived rules aren’t always real! Perhaps your work culture needs a paradigm shift in thinking to help break through to new territory. Imagine what it would be like if we took down the walls and fully, intentionally lived out our work lives in congruency with our unique gifts and talents. If we chipped away at the “it’s always just been like that” mentality in our workplace, we might just crack open a whole new realm of relationships and business possibilities. The sweet spot is finding which rules work and which rules can be questioned … and encouraging creativity and challenging the status quo to become more effective business leaders.
Now, on a light note, if you feel like you’re living with a bad case of “adultitis” and need a little pick-me-up, there is a cure. Today, don’t just be an adult with a 9am-5pm job, be a living, breathing, creative human with a zealous gusto to live your every-day life to the fullest!