Industry Interconnection Part 3: Authenticity and Satisfaction
This is the third in a series about fashion industry interconnection. Our work is so intertwined with both our inner selves and the global issues that surround us, yet we rarely take the time to think it over.
Challenge yourself today to take three minutes to read this and another minute to mull it over and comment. I guarantee it will be one of your deepest insights of the day.
Our work in fashion is unavoidably superficial. I remember having to remind myself years ago, when I was a designer feeling intense job stress, that in the grand scheme, “It’s just clothes!” I had a coworker who had that phrase pinned to her corkboard behind her desk. Every time I walked by it, I relaxed a little. On top of the material nature of the apparel industry, we are expected to look and act the part of an informed fashionista. Our days are inundated with surface conversations, rarely demanding any deep philosophical thinking. We aren’t required to expose anything more than our work selves, aside from the occasional water cooler gossip. Sure, we make meaningful friendships at work, but more often than not, relationships are formed when we grow desperate during our long hours for someone to talk to about our outside lives.
When we wear these masks of trend, status, consumption, and materialism, we disguise the deeper qualities that define us. I remember the feeling that I needed to hide the fact that I was trying to plan a wedding or disguise my pregnant belly for fear someone might discover—gasp—that I had another life outside the office. I thought I would be viewed as not serious about my job or not prioritizing my career. The thing is, when we bring our whole selves into relationships, in and outside of work, the relationships we build and the effort we put in is more meaningful and therefore more fulfilling. Why? Because we are true to our whole selves the whole time, instead of just some of the time. Authenticity—being honest and real—is a big part, if not the secret sauce to finding joy in our fashion industry careers, or any career for that matter.
I read an article about this correlation last year on Harvard Business Review. It discussed a study that linked authenticity to satisfaction, performance and engagement. The author then organized a follow-up study that concluded that “The more of themselves that people shared with others, the better their workplace experience.” What’s more, it’s just as crucial for leadership to model authenticity and promote an open and welcoming work environment. It’s a two-way street.
Think about the phoney personalities you have encountered in the fashion community. Admittedly, I think at one point I was one of them. The cattiness, judgment and backstabbing nature can be easily replaced by mutual respect, openness and laughter. Leaving my job as a designer gave me the space to look back and admit where I needed to grow as a human being. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but if I returned to the design world tomorrow, I would choose a company that nurtures their employees wholly—in their roles at work, at home, in local and global communities, and within our ecosystem.
Can you be “yourself” in the workplace? Do you ever feel that your authenticity will affect the way you are perceived by your boss?