Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
“I had a corporate job and wore a suit to work every day, and I just kind of felt like I wasn’t living my authentic self or doing what I was passionate about.” ~Lauren Gibbs, 2018 Winter Olympics silver medallist
Recently, an article posted on LinkedIn caught my attention. Written by Praveen Suthrum, President and Co-Founder of NextServices, the article makes a good case for being one’s authentic self in the workplace.
In essence, says Suthrum, everyone loses when, in our desire to fit in, we present a counterfeit self to our co-workers. We lose the joy of being and expressing who we really are. Our employer and fellow workers lose the benefit of our uniqueness, including useful new insights, even breakthrough business opportunities. Another benefit – we become less likely to be displaced by Artificial Intelligence!
An interesting case in point is the story of the ubiquitous “Post-It Note” developed and commercialized by 3M. According to a Wikipedia article (some elements of which are disputed), Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist developed the famous adhesive. He was unable to come up with an application and for a while it appeared to be “a solution without a problem.”
Quoting Wikipedia, “As the legend goes, [Arthur] Fry [another 3M scientist]…sang in his church choir…and he used slips of paper to mark the pages of his work book. When the book was opened, however, the makeshift bookmarks often moved around or fell out altogether. On a Sunday in 1973, it occurred to him that Silver’s adhesive could be put to use to create a better bookmark. If it could be coated on paper, Silver’s adhesive would hold a bookmark in place without damaging the page on which it was placed.”
The rest is history. As a result of Fry’s blending his personal and professional life, he played a fulfilling role in one of the twentieth century’s most famous commercial successes. One could say this home run was a direct result of 3M’s encouraging employees to be authentic.
I believe these benefits of authenticity in the workplace are available to everyone. It’s important to note, however, that the authentic self is uniquely different for those of us professing to be followers of Jesus.
On the one hand, Christian marketplace leaders, like their non-Christian peers, have been endowed with specific talents and passions that can and should be leveraged to make them more effective at work. On the other hand and unlike their peers, the identity of marketplace leaders who follow Jesus is not a function of their talents and passions. Rather, it is a function of the decision they have made to surrender their autonomy on an ongoing basis in favour of Jesus’ authority over every area of life, including work.
In a predominantly secular and increasingly hostile marketplace, putting Jesus first at work can be daunting. Notwithstanding, the following posts will explore why we believers in Jesus must let our light shine in the marketplace despite the obstacles and how we might accomplish this goal.
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.