The Evolving Authentic Self

I was watching a Netflix series about three women from the South whose friendship started in grade school. 

They have always been there for each other during monumental as well as difficult times.

At this point though they’re struggling because they have always been supportive of each other but now it’s not working because each has grown and developed in different ways, so they’re clashing.

Many relationships go through similar situations. 

Friends, work colleagues, and even family members can drift apart over time. As much as most of us would like things to be “the way they always were,” this is just not reality.

Every new experience can alter our perspective, maybe even to the point of making drastic changes in our lives and potentially leaving others behind.

It has been said that our past experiences shape who we are today, so if these people were part of that, why do we move away from them sometimes? 

Are they so much of our security blanket that we feel smothered? 

Or is it because they remind us of those times that were really painful and we would rather forget them?

In the workplace this can be even more challenging.

Some people have worked together for many years, so they view themselves as a “work family.” They face the same issues as in a traditional family, but it all seems to work for them.

The issues arise when someone wants more; they either want to move up, transfer to another department, or leave the company.

They realize that the way they functioned for all of those years was alright then but now they feel stifled. Their authentic self now seems fake, and they find themselves just going through the motions.

This is not only a wake-up call to that person but also to the whole team. 

By this person evolving, others may have to do the same and they may be resistant to it. Others may embrace this, but the result could be cliques being formed within the team.

This may appear to be “so high school,” but this happened with one of my corporate training clients.

The leader had three people who always worked together well but he sensed that one wanted to be promoted to supervisor.

This created a conundrum; the only way to do this was for this employee now to manage the other two. The leader knew that this would be a disaster.

What should she do? I never did know the final outcome, but it was so stressful for the leader to handle.

Many of us don’t go through some drastic transformation but instead it is gradual. 

Looking back on our lives, can you pinpoint when things began to go in a different direction? When did you start to gravitate to new experiences and people? 

How can you still maintain old relationships while cultivating new ones?

I recently made friends with a woman I was on a European tour with.

We both had such a wonderful time. When she got home, she was eager to show her BFF her photos and tell her all about the amazing adventures. Unfortunately, her BFF seemed uninterested and my friend was hurt.

In retrospect, she realized that the two of them were no longer on the same playing field and that she was trying too hard to keep the friendship alive. She will never end the relationship completely but instead will pocket the fond memories and now cultivate friendships with others who share her interests and passions.

Leaders need to understand that we all evolve, some faster and/or more intense than others.

This is why it is imperative to not only review each employee’s strengths and weaknesses but also to ascertain how the relationships and dynamics within the department are changing and adjust accordingly.

Leaders also need to recognize that they also evolve, and this can affect the team too.