Could It Be Time For You To Get Real About Your Career?

girl with two faces“Oh, come on, get real!” Chances are good that you’ve heard this from friends more than once in your life. Me too. In fact, you’ve probably offered up this gentle guidance yourself. I know I have. Actually, I’m about to do it again…

Like a lot of people, you’re no doubt aware of lots of realities about the world of work. You know the results your company expects of you, you know you need to be prepared for your annual performance appraisal, …and you know making your boss look good is usually good for your career. You also know you need to give office gossip at least some credence, you know you have to watch your back, and you know you’re expected to do ever more with even less.

And most importantly, you know how to fit in. After all, it’s something you’ve been doing most of your career.

Actually, like many people, you may have gotten so caught up in your career adventure that, even now, you may be as eager to fit in to your profession, industry, and organization, as you were on day one. Over time, this desire has been reinforced by seeing that if you perform well, and have a little luck, your career advances. You also get to keep your job, and you become even better at doing what’s expected.

Sure, it can be difficult at times. Generally, however, you’ve progressed in your career by being astute enough to figure out what others want from you – and agile enough to provide it. Yet, I think this kind of success holds a danger, and it’s this: You form a picture of yourself that meets work specs, even if it’s several beats short of who you truly are. [Tweet This]

Sadly, this traditional model of success continues to be a fact of career life. Yet, along side of it, there are new opportunities to reimagine success. Today, more than ever, you can pursue a career path that is meaningful and fulfilling for you – as long as you’re willing to be you.

This has basically been my view for years, and one of messages I’ve sought to convey in my blog posts over the years. Yet, recently, in preparing for a new project, I’ve been reading career advice for actors. Among the things I’ve learned is that the most successful actors are adept at being real. [Tweet This]  I first learned that via Scott Conte who says:

“What is the essence of acting? Sanford Meisner said the definition of acting is “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” The “living” part of that statement is what’s real. The “imaginary circumstances” are not — they’re imaginary; they’re fiction. It’s the truthful living under imaginary circumstances that creates the illusion of real life.”

Frankly, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve begun to entertain the idea that the traditional model of success seems to require us to live dishonestly under real circumstances. With further thought, I’ve realized that’s not quite right. Actually, I think the old success model requires us to suspend our disbelief so we can buy into the corporate culture, and then play roles needed to advance the plot. In corporate life, the best actors suspend not only disbelief, but often their own identities too. [Tweet This]

Being real is honest, and honesty is powerful. It’s a point reinforced in Roy McCrerey’s excellent book, Acting for a Living. In a discussion of truth and its importance to acting, he quotes Johnny Depp to say anything less is lying.

What I mean when I say get real about your career is to consider if you are living true. That is, true to who you are, true to what you value and believe, and true to the vision you have for the world and your place in it. I also mean taking steps to build a career that blends with the way you want to live your life so you can make a difference in all you do. If you’re not doing this, it is time to get real.


To what extent are you being real in your career? Leave a comment and let me know. And if you’re interested in gaining better self-knowledge, consider my Insights for Success coaching.


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