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Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons (or, how to be yourself and move forward in your career

We’ve all been there - squeezing ourselves into a particular shaped box to fit in somewhere, whether that is school / university, a group of friends we want to impress or at work.

And not only is it exhausting, it feels pretty rubbish too.

The older we get, and the more often we have had to remould ourselves to ‘fit in’, the harder it can be to remember who we really are. But think about it – would you rather spend time with someone who has a bit of ‘flamingo’ about them, something that sets them apart from the rest, or a pigeon like, vanilla ‘yes wo/man’?

In a work situation, being ‘you’ is much more likely to bring success – if you stand out (obviously for the right reasons!) then people will remember you, they will come to you when they need the things they know you are good at.

So, how to be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons? I’ve put together a few flamingo themed tips below to help you start being more you:

Photo by Lieselot Dalle

1. Stand on one leg

By this, I mean play to your strengths. Just as a flamingo is good at standing on one leg, find you talents and strengths and make sure that what you are doing at work plays to them. If you can, try to ‘redistribute’ the parts of the job that you don’t enjoy or that make you anxious. Not sure what your strengths are at work? Try asking people – no I’m not mad, ask a couple of your closest colleagues what they think you are good at. Not only will it make things clearer for you, but it’s always nice to hear what people think you do well. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, using a psychometric test such as DiSC (which I use as part of all my packages) can help you explore your behaviour style, and the strengths associated with it.

2. Strut proudly

Once you know what your strengths are, and what you like doing, show them off! If you don’t shout about what you are great at, then how will anyone know? Now I’m not talking about a company-wide braggy email, more of a chat with your manager, team leader or colleagues so that when new opportunities arise, they will think of you. And when you do something great – tell people! Again, no bragging necessary, but if you enjoyed a project or task, look for similar ones and talk to people about them – could you do an office training about the project? Write up a case study? My previous office used to do ‘lunch and learn’ sessions once a month where team members would talk about projects, and things that were important to them. The overall idea – make sure people know who you are and what amazing things you can do.

Photo by Vincent Van Zalinge

3. Know when to fly away

Think about saying ‘no’ to things that don’t make you happy at work. This is a tricky one – I know in many offices, especially small companies, there is limited scope for saying you don’t want to do things, but in some cases, it might actually be beneficial for the company – if you can spend more time on something that will generate money for the business (rather than admin for example) then saying no may be justified. If you can, look what you can take on instead of the ting you don’t want to do – could you do a swap with a colleague so you are both doing something you enjoy? If you have ‘extra-curricular’ work responsibilities, eg a newsletter or a social committee - is there a junior team member who could benefit from the exposure (with you providing a mentoring role maybe)? It can be hard to say no – most of us are conditioned to say yes – but think about how you spend your time, and the benefit you (and your company) really get.

Photo by MSH Foto

4. Find other flamingos

The benefit of Being in a group of people who are happy to be themselves, will push forward and who aren’t scared to stand up and be counted cannot be underestimated, especially at work. Not only will they challenge you to do the same, but being around people who are more fulfilled and happier in what they are doing will start to rub off. And be honest, who wouldn’t like to feel happier about work on a Monday morning? So, go find some more flamingos, and book a date in the diary for a coffee.

There you have it, a flamingo themed guide to being yourself more at work. I hope you can see the benefits of being more you – not only is it better for you mentally and emotionally, it also just makes life more enjoyable.

If you’d like to talk more about finding your strengths, and discovering a job that energizes rather than exhausts you, please click here to arrange a free 20 - minute Discovery call, where we can discuss your career to date, your hopes for the future, and how we can work together. I also run a free Facebook group, the Returnity Lounge, for women looking for develop their career and find work that works for them and their families – click here to join.

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