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Episode Transcript

You do your best work when you’re authentic you. And you work best with others as your authentic self. 

You know when your authenticity is present because you can feel it. You can feel resonance and contentment.

And you love it when others bring themselves fully to work. The whole team has much better synergy.

Authenticity is today’s buzzword. Maybe it’s a bit overused.

Still, you know you should be your authentic self. Everyone knows that… 

Whether or not they do it is another question.

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me in my career, “Just be yourself.” 

I remember once having reservations about leading a meeting discussion. It was tense times and we had to make some big decisions. 

When I asked my boss for advice he said, “Just be yourself.”

Like it’s as simple as that. Just be yourself.

But you know what? It’s not as simple as that.

It seems like it should be simple and straightforward. But it’s not. It’s complicated.

Why It’s Important – and So Hard – to Be Authentic in Your Engineering Career 

Why is authenticity so important? 

Because it brings out the best in people. It removes masks of deception. It erases any pretense.  Gets rid of the games people play. 

It just makes it easier to communicate and get things done.

It also contributes to diversity and innovation by bringing together true ideas and a genuine energy to work together.

So what’s so difficult about it? Why is it so hard to be authentic?

Because fear gets in the way. Like the fear of failure. The fear of standing out. The fear of unworthiness. 

You feel the need to be like others, to be like everyone else. Instead of your unique self.

You feel a strong need to do what you think others want you to do.

You feel the tension of being a woman in a man’s world. Or an introvert in an extraverted world. 

It takes courage to be yourself. To show up and be vulnerable. To interact with others whose authentic selves clash with yours. 

It takes courage to hold your ground. To stand behind your ideas and opinions.

Especially if you’re a woman in engineering. Or if you’re part of any underrepresented group.

Tips for Becoming More Self Aware for a More Authentic Engineering Career

Some people are very self-aware. Others not so much. In any case this is something you can work on and improve.

You can’t just flip a switch and suddenly be fully authentic. It’s a process. 

It takes time to learn who your authentic self is. And who your authentic self is in this particular context. At this time. In this job and career.  

And it takes time to mesh that with the kind of engineer and leader you want to be.

Here are 3 tips to get you started on being more self-aware:

  1. Make it a practice to learn about yourself. 

Find ways to know yourself better. By that I mean pay attention to things that help define you. Like,

Also, think about your future self and practice being that person. Allow yourself to grow and change to become who you want to be. 

I’ve created a guide called “4 Steps to Start Commanding Greater Influence and Impact as a Woman Engineer.” It’s a great reference for getting to know your authentic self. 

You can get your free copy here.

  1. Learn to stand up for your ideas.

It helps if you first know your why. If you have a good grasp on your personal philosophy and motivation. 

Stand in your power. And stand strong in your ideas.

Next take action that follows your ideas. Do what resonates with you – not what you think others want or expect you to do. 

Remember what you believe and stand for. Then make sure your actions align with that. 

And lastly, speak your ideas. Share them whenever you have the opportunity. 

No one knows about you or your ideas until you tell them. So make that part of your everyday conversations. 

This helps you build resilience. It helps you test out your ideas. And build and refine new ones.

  1. Notice when stress happens.

Because when there’s stress, there’s a disconnect. A disconnect between you and what’s happening around you. Between the situation and your authentic self. 

Notice when this happens. And then determine if it’s resolvable. Or if you’re trying to force fit yourself into something that doesn’t resonate with your authenticity.

If you’re in a job, for example, that doesn’t allow you to be your authentic self, you’ll know it soon enough. 

That’s a situation you’ll want to get out of.

When stress is minimal, though, you’ll know your authentic self is in charge.

Be Yourself to Do Your Best Engineering Work and Ensure a Fulfilling Career

Your authenticity is essential not only because your input and ideas are meaningful and needed. But because you want your work to be aligned with you. 

You want to be able to follow a career that energizes you. That allows you to make a difference. 

Authenticity gives you fulfillment in your job and engineering career overall.

You want personal and professional satisfaction. To be your best self with ease and calm.Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll explore ways to communicate better with higher level leaders. You won’t want to miss Episode 119.