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Let the Personality Show!

I’ve encountered a few offices where personality literally hung from the walls. In these spaces, people were free to decorate the walls with almost anything that came to mind. While the atmosphere was bizarre at first, after a while, you began to get the sense that people weren’t just free to decorate – they were free to express. This freedom of expression, in turn, was really just an outward sign that people were free to think, feel and act without the burden of artificial constraints.It was in these environments that I witnessed tremendous innovation – from the shop floor to the CEO’s office, and to the marketing department to the engineering team and the customer service department.

Take a look around your office. Does personality reign, or is it stifled underneath an ocean of blue-gray cubicles and beige workstations? When the very thing that makes us unique is suffocated, our ability to generate the ideas that will carry us to new levels of achievement is stunted. Somewhere along the way, business decided that the need to appear “professional” meant eliminating the ability of individuals to be exactly that – individuals with the freedom to emote, demonstrate and create.

While you might not be able to change the nature of the boss or the culture of the workplace, you can begin with yourself. Practice letting go of the reigns a little bit. Stop worrying about what others think. Do something daring, even if it’s within your own cubicle. Hang up a garish picture, or buy only bright, lime-green pencils. If you are so lucky as to be in a leadership position, go ahead and do something out of character with your office. Let others know that it’s OK for them to do it, too.

You might soon find out that people enjoy being at work a little more, and are both a little more willing, and able, to share what’s on their minds.

Copyright © 2011 David Kasprzak

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