Most people tell me that I’m just like my dad. “Peaches”, a nickname assigned by my brothers that contradicts his 6'6" frame, has taught me more about what it means to be a professional than he would ever imagine — which makes total sense, because we’ve never spoken about it.
Being a gentleman and respectful to others, looking others in the eye when speaking, acknowledging others wants and needs: these are all part of the foundation my parents instilled in me from the earliest age. However, even as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed something interesting in seeing how my dad carries himself as a businessman.
My dad, Philip Clements, is consistently himself.
Phil, as many know him, is the same man during and after his conference calls and meetings. His clients enjoy being around him because he’s genuinely interested in not only their business, but their families and lives. He’s a friend.
The best part is, he doesn’t waste energy being someone he’s not. His unwillingness to compromise has earned him both respect and success at work and home. I’ve noticed a stark difference between my and the majority’s understanding of what it means to be a professional for this reason.
You see, people appreciate working with someone who is consistently real and honest. Taking your mask off allows others to do the same, which in turn breaks down many of the barriers in communication that prevent the ever-so-coveted efficiency that businesses look for.
With this comes a sense of vulnerability. A split can feel like a break up. But still, the benefits of sharing life, not just crunching numbers beside each other, far outways the consequences of building a genuine kind of “professional relationship”.
Being real and honest doesn’t mean being disrespectful and hurtful to others when your opinions differ. Rather, it means acknowledging that across the table from you is another human being with their own life and aspirations. Take the time to engage with colleauges as humans, not robots, and you might just learn a thing or two about who you spend your time with everyday — helping you to form a better understanding of their human experience. The advantages of doing so aren’t soley for your own gain either. I’m not offering a strategy to manipulate others to like you or land you a promotion.
I’m encouraging you to discover, like I have, the freedom in building professional relationships that don’t compromise who you are in the process.
After all, the only way to find our true passion is by being real with ourselves and others about what really makes us tick. This isn’t taking the easy way out either. At first, it can be difficult to open up and embrace the feelings of vulnerability that may arise, but we can trust that our best work is ahead as we find careers and jobs that best fit our true selves: for both our sakes and for others.
So relax, laugh a little, smile as often as possible and acknowledge that everyone is human — the good and the bad.
“Anything worth doing, is worth doing well” the saying goes.
I can’t tell you what’s worth doing in your own life, but I can tell you what’s not worth doing: being anyone but yourself.