I attended a great class yesterday, called the ABC’s of Effective Feedback, and while most of the class was good, the instructor, Irv Rubin, said something that really struck home with me: “people cannot seriously expect to interact with each other effectively without being authentic…you can’t just flip a switch and turn off who you are at work, then come home and flip the switch back on, and expect that it’ll work well…and without serious consequences to your health and overall wellbeing.”
As a person’s who’s struggled with separating emotion from the workplace, especially in such a male-dominated, testosterone-driven place, I reflected on the fact that I’ve been ill for the better part of the nine years I’ve worked for my employer.
Afterwards, Irv sent my a blog article that struck me to the core; so much so that I’ve copied it here in its entirety, in the hopes that it will touch at least one of you, and/or that you’ll share your thoughts about it with me.
Here it is:
Our IQs and EQs Need Some “AI”
Irv Rubin, Ph.D
As young children, many of us learned a very important lesson about life from the story of a little velveteen rabbit. [Margery Williams Bianco] We learned that “Real isn’t how you’re made…. it happens to you when someone REALLY loves you for a long, long time…and that’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges…” However, becoming Real takes more than just time, we are warned, it also takes courage. Why courage? Because sometimes it “hurts to be Real.” Sometimes others will shy away from and make fun of you when you are Real, but “once you are Real you can’t be ‘ugly’…except to people who don’t understand.”
When it comes to the culture of most organizations, we seem to have forgotten that lesson. Being a velveteen rabbit—being Real—isn’t even an unspoken “No, no!” Every time we remind someone about having to behave “professionally” and to not allow themselves to get “personal”, we are throwing a wet rug over being Real. Every time we alert someone about the dangers of “wearing their heart/their feelings on their sleeves” being Real has taken another push into the shadow of our lives.
Make no mistake about it. Leaving your heart and soul by the front door with your umbrella when you arrive at work and bringing just your body and brain to your desk is the root cause of immeasurable human dis-ease. Reduced creativity and increased probability of ulcers or worse aside, we pay another unquestionable price for the games we play. We continue to act from the delusion belief that spending the majority of our lives at work working hard to not be real, to not risk being the human beings we were created to be, can be simply put aside when we return home. We think when we return to the business of living from the business of making a living we can simply flip a switch, open a different computer program, and we can be Real again.
These unwritten rules [and their many variants!] make any nice words about the importance of engagement—today’s flavor of the moth buzzword—an oxymoron. A robot’s greatest asset is its lack of a heart and soul enabling it to engage in its tasks technologically. Human beings engage as human beings…at least in theory. We are so good at—so practiced at—not being Real, at compartmentalizing who we are as human beings are from what we do as professionals, that it is only when we can’t stand playing the game anymore that—out of frustration and exacerbation—we beseech someone to “Get real! L *” To “stop holding their cards close to their vests.” To “go all in.” [Or, heaven forbid, we commit the cardinal sin. We shed a tear!]
Current research on leadership is pointing us toward having to take a hard look at the impact of the unwritten norms defining how to play the organizational game. It is telling us that IQ and EQ are necessary, but insufficient. Being real, being who you are—it turns out— is the main quality that characterizes people/leaders we deeply respect and admire. The organizations they lead are more profitable when it comes to what they do—producing and selling their products/services. Being who you are is prophetic, profitable, and good for your health and the health of your loved ones.
Furthermore, recent research [Google study] has documented the vital importance of psychological safety as a major factor in differentiating good from great, in differentiating average teams from championship teams. The need for this quality as the foundation of an organization’s culture was taught to us by the velveteen rabbit! The reason is pure emotional economics, of the ROI of choices made by the organization’s most important asset—its human resources.
Good is the best we can expect as a return when we have to invest so much energy in fearing being seen as being ‘’ugly,’’ in the fear of being ex-communicated or retaliated against because we had the courage to face the “hurt” of being real. Being the best we can be, on the other hand, requires that we invest the best we can be by being who we were created to be, to be Real. If the L word—“REALLY loves you…”— is too personal for the world of business, understanding, tolerance, empathy, caring, concern, acceptance will do the same job! [Yes, the soft-stuff has hard bottom-line consequences.]
What’s missing from the IQ and EQ equation is a measure of our AI—our authenticity intelligence.
A QUICK AI QUIZ
Below you will find a very brief sampling of “pregnant moments.” Moments when people, places and things—when circumstances— confront us with a choice…”to be or not to be… real/authentic?”* This choice has several facets.
• Speaking the truth as you see/feel it.
• Being direct, clear, and concise versus beating around the bush.
• Sharing your judgments/opinions without being judgmental.
• Saying what you mean without being mean.
The more you can say the statement has truth for you, the more often you’ve not been true to your self. The less often you’ve been real. The lower you know is your AI.
Have you ever:
(1) Not told a sales clerk about an error in your favor.
(2) Told your supervisor what you think they wanted to hear versus what you believed was true.
(3) Left a restaurant without telling a server what you didn’t like about your experience.
(4) Told a loved one a little white lie about his/her new outfit/hair styling/meal they prepared.
(5) Raised your hand/said “Yes!” when you felt “No!”
(6) Told yourself “It’s not really that important.” when it was.
(7) Said/did something politically-wise that felt wrong to you.
(8) Placated someone rather than rock the boat.
If who we really are—if our being Real— stays in the shadows of our lives, we need to ask ourselves; “Who is it who has lived my life?”
* We welcome you to share, via e-mail, any additional examples of “pregnant moments” you’ve experienced that offer us all the opportunity to strengthen our AI. [Irv.firstname.lastname@example.org]