Are You Bringing Your Whole Self to Work?

I have spent the past 17 years as a speaker and consultant, partnering with employees, leaders, and teams across a wide variety of companies. I’ve seen lots of examples of what works and what doesn’t work for the success and engagement of individuals, managers, and organizations. 

Whether as a professional baseball player in my young adulthood or my current life and career as a developer of high performing teams, I’ve struggled with fears, doubts, insecurities, and an erroneous obsession with wanting to be liked by everyone. My commitment to authenticity and to bringing my whole self to work is an on-going practice. While sometimes challenging, it is always important.

For any of us to truly succeed, especially in today’s business world, we must be willing to bring our whole selves to the work that we do. For the teams and organizations that we’re a part of to thrive, it’s also essential to foster an environment where people feel safe enough to bring all of who they are to work. 

Here are five specific things you can do to both bring all of who you are to work and empower your team to be as effective, successful, and engaged as possible:

1. Be Authentic

The foundation of bringing your whole self to work is authenticity, which is about showing up honestly, without self-righteousness, and with vulnerability. It takes courage to be authentic, and it’s essential for trust, growth, and connection.

2. Utilize the Power of Appreciation

Appreciation is fundamental to building strong relationships, empowering teams, and maintaining a healthy outlook. Bringing your whole self to work is about being willing to be seen, and also about seeing and supporting the people around you.

3. Focus on Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is often more important than IQ, skills and experience—in terms of your ability both to manage your relationships and to bring your whole self to work. EQ is both about you (self-awareness and self-management) and about how you relate to others (social awareness and relationship management).

4. Embrace a Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is a way of approaching your work and your life with an understanding that you can improve at anything if you’re willing to work hard, dedicate yourself, and practice. It’s also about looking at every experience (even, indeed especially, your challenges) as an opportunity for growth and learning.

5. Create a Championship Team

The environment around you and the people you work with have a significant impact on your ability (or inability) to fully show up, engage, and thrive. At the same time, the more willing you are to bring our whole self to work, the more impact you can have on others. Creating a championship team is about building a culture that is safe and conducive to people being themselves, caring about one another, and being willing and able to do great work together.

Regardless of where you work, what kind of work you do, or with whom you do it, bringing your whole self to work allows you to be more satisfied, effective, and free. For a leader who wants to influence others, having the courage to lead with authenticity also allows you to build or enhance your team’s culture in such a way that encourages others to bring all of who they are to work. That, in turn, unlocks greater creativity, connection, and performance for your people, your team and your organization.

Are you willing to lean in and bring all of who you are to work?


Mike Robbins is the author of four books including his latest, Bring Your Whole Self to Work: How Vulnerability Unlocks Creativity, Connection, and Performance

He is a thought leader and sought-after speaker whose clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, eBay, Genentech, Schwab, the San Francisco Giants, and many others. For more information on Mike and his work, visit www.mike-robbins.com.

Portions of this article are excerpted from Bring Your Whole Self to Work, by Mike Robbins, with permission. Published by Hay House (May 2018) and available online or in bookstores.