What Does 'Bring Your Whole Self to Work' Mean and Why Is It Important?

by Vault Careers | March 05, 2018

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You've probably heard the phrase "bring your whole self to work," but you might not know what it means, or why it's important to do it. Well, according to motivational speaker and author Mike Robbins, the phrase is shorthand for being more vulnerable, which leads to being more courageous, which leads to taking more risks, which leads to better performance at work.

As a result, the phrase is very important to organizations, which Robbins says need to do two things to help employees bring their whole selves to work: 1) provide high but healthy expectations, and 2) provide a highly nurturing environment, which means making sure employees are seen, heard, valued, and encouraged to safely take risks.

The importance of these two goals for organizations can't be stressed enough, since research shows that if companies do this, their bottom lines will improve. Which is why companies like Google, Gap, and others are embracing Robbins' writing on the subject.

In May, Robbins will publish his latest book, Bringing Your Whole Self to Work: How Vulnerability Unlocks Creativity, Connection, and Performance. And Robbins points out (in his book and in a Ted Talk upon which he built to write the book) that the natural responses to vulnerability are empathy and compassion, and that vulnerability is key to human trust and connection. Which, in turn, are keys to business success, since today so much essential work is done in teams, which require trust and connection in order to succeed.

Of course, bringing your whole self to work and being vulnerable and then courageous is no easy task. As Robbins knows all too well, we all worry a lot (most of us way too much) about what others think about us and how they perceive us, which leads us to not be ourselves quite a large percentage of the time (at work and outside of work). To this, Robbins says: we wouldn't worry so much (if at all) about what others think if we realize just how little people actually think of us (people mostly think about this: themselves).

There's also the issue of pain and disappointment. We've all wanted something professionally, academically, and personally, and failed to get it. This causes a lot of emotional pain, heartache perhaps, and so we often try very hard to avoid feeling these things again. Which means not being vulnerable, not taking risks. But we must find ways to be vulnerable and courageous. As Robbins points out, the birthplace of innovation and change rest in vulnerability. That is, we need to be vulnerable and take risks if we're going to be new and different.

For more on this important topic, check out Robbins' Ted Talk below.



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Filed Under: Technology | Workplace Issues

Tags: google | mike robbins | motivational speakers | teamwork | workplace culture

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