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Nov 14, 2022
Speaker · Career Consultant · Host of the Career Relaunch® podcast Got it! Got it! Got it! getty Part of the reason you have a job is to earn a living, but doing work you actually find meaningful makes each workday more gratifying. Aside from your salary, benefits, or company perks, your work environment will have a direct impact on your level of professional fulfillment. You probably invest a lot of effort trying to have an impact at work, but have you ever considered what impact your work has on you? Your Workplace Can and Will Change You Confident businesswoman explaining colleagues. Professionals are standing at office. They are in ... [+] businesswear. getty Never underestimate the impact the people around you can have on your own personality, perceptions of acceptable norms, and ways of working. As CS Lewis once said, “day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” Our environment has an impact on us. Given the amount of time you spend at work, your projects, company culture, and team dynamics play a huge role in influencing who you are today and the person you’re becoming. MORE FOR YOU Influence can come in the form of your boss’s preferred ways of working or your teammates’ communication styles. Company manifestoes, employee behaviors, meeting culture, or even social events can influence your own beliefs, attitudes, and expectations. Your surroundings can have a strong influence on you, both positive and negative. You just have to ask yourself whether your workplace is moving you toward the person you want to become. Recognize the Impact of Your Surroundings businesspeople walking in the corridor of an business center, pronounced motion blur getty I wouldn’t describe myself as someone easily swayed by external influences, peer pressure, or societal norms, but when you spend most of your waking hours in any work environment, influence is almost inevitable. My time as a senior brand manager at a start-up luxury desserts company was one of the more intense chapters of my marketing career. I was working on a small team under tremendous pressure to grow rapidly after being recently acquired by a larger company, which is not unusual at any early-stage company with ambitions for global growth. I found myself having to be aggressive, ruthless, and unforgiving at times to achieve results, which deviated quite significantly from my usual personality and approach to managing work and people. My behavior helped to drive more of the results we wanted on teams, projects, and performance, so I genuinely started to believe my new way of working as actually more effective. Although I didn’t immediately notice it at the time, my own personality started to evolve. The changes to my personality happened in small increments, creating gradual but consistent shifts in my personality. I had always prided myself on being someone patient, calm, diplomatic, and friendly. However, I slowly went from being patient to impatient. Calm to intense. Diplomatic to more impulsive. Friendly to reserved. Work Affects Your Personality Outside of Work Too A woman listening to a man (defocussed) talking during a discussion at an outdoor cafe. getty Whether any specific way of working is truly effective is always debatable, as there certainly is a time and place for a wide range of approaches. You could argue more intense cultures demand more intense behaviors to achieve success. However, what became crystal clear to me was that the person I was becoming was not the person I wanted to be. Outside of work, I caught myself snapping at friends, being impatient at the grocery story, or getting easily irritated by inefficiencies. I was fortunate to have had some friends candidly point out that I was turning into someone I never used to be. One friend asked me why I was so annoyed all the time. Another said I seemed to suddenly have a shorter than usual temper. Hearing these outside perspectives was a much-needed wake-up call. When I took a good look at myself and realized I didn’t like or recognize the person I was becoming. I wasn’t changing for the better, and I didn’t want to work in an environment where I felt I had to compromise on who I was just to fit in and achieve results. I ended up resigning from that job even before I had another one lined up. I eventually landed at another organization where I felt the culture, people, and ways of working were more in line with who I was and who I wanted to be. This change literally helped me sleep better at night. Make a Change For the Better Businessman walking along window in office corridor getty Even if you consider yourself an independently-minded person impervious to external influence, the reality is that spending a significant number of hours in any environment will inevitably have an impact on who you are, no matter how much you try to resist it. My challenge is for you to find a way to take a step back and reflect. As you look at where things stand right now, do you like the person you’re becoming? Do you want to be more like the people you see around you at work? If not, what’s one specific change you could make to get yourself back on track toward becoming the person you want to be? For the sake of your own identity, values, personality, and priorities, you owe it to yourself to decide which compromises you’re no longer willing to make and most importantly, what proactive steps you’ll take right now to move your career in a direction that makes you feel at peace with the person you see in the mirror each day. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn . Check out my website or some of my other work here .
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