Many times my clients talk to me about what it means to them to 'be professional', particularly when they first start up in business and they worry about bringing their full selves to their business for fear of 'unprofessionalism', in reality, people buy from people - not 'businesses' so I encourage my clients to bring their knowledge, experience and personality to their work - their whole self!
When I first started my coaching business in 2009, I was keen to follow on from the place of professionalism I had known as a Marketing Brand Manager; I had rules around what it meant to be professional - how I conducted myself, the way I interacted with my colleagues... But what I was actually doing was being professional through the lens of the corporate machines I had once been part of and in truth a lens I had probably created myself.
What I have learnt over the years is that it is more important to be you, to bring your true self and your true essence to your business, than to keep up a facade of being 'business-like'. It is how you guarantee that you work with the right people, as clients, partners, collaborators and staff and how you are completely happy, whole and fulfilled.
Whether it's with my personal coaching clients, delivering talks or workshops or
Executive Coaching - what people see and hear is me, my lived experience, my thoughts, my feelings my passions, all in service of helping them be the best version of themselves.
To truly embrace being yourself in your own business, here are a few tips:
Remember your 'Why'
It can be easy to get caught up in 'shoulds'; make it a daily practice to re-connect with your real reason for being in business and use this as your daily mantra. If you need a visual reminder, write it in your diary, on your desk and keep it in your mind's eye.
Do not self censor for fear of what others might think
Whatever you do, and however you do it, there will always be someone somewhere who has an opinion on it, you cannot control this, the only thing you can control is your actions. Always act from a place of truth and integrity and you will connect with the right people for you and your business.
Actively seek to surround yourself with like-minded people
There is a saying that you are the sum of the company that you keep; look at the people you're spending time with, both in and related to your business, are they a reflection of who you want to be? Do they have qualities you admire and wish to emulate? Do they share your values?
Be willing to let go of that which does not serve you, including people
Following on from the tip above, as you grow and develop, there may be people around you that have not grown and developed, too. Recognise who these people are and be willing to let go. Similarly, are there old habits that you have formed and hung on to consciously and unconsciously? Recognise the old habits that no longer serve you and let them go.
Turn off negativity and sabotage
Doubts and limiting beliefs stunt growth and close you off to opportunity. Dial down the negative thoughts and self sabotage in service of being your biggest, brightest most bold self in your work.
Deeply acknowledge what you accomplish and notice learning opportunities too
When something goes well make time to celebrate and build your bank of evidence of what you are capable of, and, when things don't go to plan take time to acknowledge what you have learnt and use this to build your knowledge and resilience for the future.