Wearing a Uniform

In this episode and Melissa discuss how working from home still requires managers to put on their uniform.

July 21, 2020
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Melissa Albers  00:03
Hey everyone, you are listening to the exploring self awareness podcast. This little banter is a car ride long and features your hosts JJ Parker and Melissa alvers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a leadership coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  00:21
So earlier this week, I was giving a presentation about remote work. And I stumbled on something that I thought was kind of interesting. I was doing that presentation for my Vistage group about remote work. And as I was given that, I was talking about how we all used to go to work, right. And we used to have all these routines to go to work, and you know, get up in the morning and get showered, have breakfast, do all that. And now today it's very different, right? We all have these very different routines. And partway through that presentation. I realized like we put on a work we're very used to put on a work uniform in the morning and going to work acting in these professional ways, right?

Melissa Albers  01:02
Yeah, I love that. That's such a good analogy.

JJ Parker  01:05
And but now that we're working from home, like what I'm doing instead is I'm getting up, I'm staying in my pajama pants and trying to act like a professional does, which is funny because I was thinking like, uniform, the uniform is kind of like impacting the way I think and the way I act right and realizing that until I've been working from home and realizing that my jammy pants are also impacted, especially when I try to be a professional and like,

Melissa Albers  01:36
Oh my gosh, I love it. Well, and I love the implication that you're just giving because you're talking about the uniform as an external thing, right? Like, this is what I wear. And yet there's so much that we also mentally do to put that same uniform on when we go to work.

JJ Parker  01:52
I totally Yeah, like what I was what I was thinking about in referring to a uniform, you know, like my uniforms a hoodie, so I'm not actually saying that Getting into uniform. Which is ironic, it's not that much different than my jammy pants. It is a meant it's a mental uniform. It's not like I'm not really referring to a physical uniform. I'm really referring to like a mental uniform, right? I get in a different mental space when I have to go be professional, right? Yeah, yeah. But is that authentic? Is that really me? Like, am I you know what I mean? Like, yeah, I do know. I mean, I'm a 40 year old guy with kids. Am I pretending to be a professional five days a week and what am I doing the rest of the time.

Melissa Albers  02:32
I was having a conversation with someone last week. And you know, just in the same vein, she was talking about how, boy as soon as we got this stay at home design or whatever, she realized that the stuff that she did in the morning, not just mentally her uniform or how she got dressed, but that she had certain habits that she did all the time. So like for example, she would get off the bus, downtown Minneapolis and she would walk a half an hour mile to her office. And in that walk, she would mentally set up all of the dominoes that she was planning on attacking the minute she sat down in her chair and she realized now the walk from her kitchen down two flights of stairs to her office was not affording her any Domino time and it was really throwing her off.

JJ Parker  03:20
Oh, yeah, that's another thing I was talking about earlier this week. Is this like the routine right you you know we're kind of creatures of habit right? So we have all these built in habits and routines that we like don't ever think about and it says autopilot most the time. That's a great story about how there was like a built in habit that was actually helping her be more effective at her job didn't realize she had it until it was gone. Right.

Melissa Albers  03:49
Exactly. And and and not only realizing that it was gone, but it legitimately really threw her off.

JJ Parker  03:55
Yeah, so the question is like, Did she how When did she realize that through are off because she could have been in that, like, thrown off state for quite a while, right? Because it's funny, you can't connect, it's, it's hard to connect some of those habits with the way you're actually feeling. And inside, right, like, you don't realize that those things are correlated, because you never think about them.

Melissa Albers  04:17
Yeah. Well, and I think we're actually, you know, to me, like, I'm going in two different places in this conversation, like, I think about how I think about something, and the habits that I formed because it makes me feel safe. But I also am thinking about how I feel, and and just how different the two are, and how normally in work I can, I can go into a certain mode of acting, because I'm thinking like, Oh, I'm at this stage of this work. So I need to act a certain way. Whereas my feelings have always not really come into the equation in a work setting, necessarily.

JJ Parker  04:56
So like, what's an example of that like, if you were watching Like what, like trying to sell somebody out here when you're a salesperson? I mean, would you get that separate? Feeling like what? What's a day exam? Yeah,

Melissa Albers  05:08
for sure. I mean, this is this goes right into our conversations I think about being really aware you know, self awareness is being able to understand who you are on the inside. And and that everything should be not should be but everything matching, like what you're saying matches how you're thinking, and how you're thinking matches how you feel. And I just noticed that there's less right now less separation with all of those things.

JJ Parker  05:35
So because we're all having to work from home, right? Normally, we'd be in our fanciful offices now. We're just like, I'm in my basement, surrounded by all sorts of kids stuff. Yeah, I was falling dogs.

Melissa Albers  05:49

JJ Parker  05:52
So like our our work, our work personas and our home personas are absolutely colliding right now. Right. Hi. couldn't agree with you more. Yeah. And we can't separate them right now. Like really like we can try. But I've been trying, and I've been on calls with my leadership team and you know, my kids are in the background. Yeah, it's Yeah, it puts a strain on those two kind of parts of me.

Melissa Albers  06:19
Yeah. And I almost like want to call them like Rs, our authentic part. And our actor part, you know, like you talked about putting on that uniform. And to me, that's like kind of putting up the shield putting on the covering to go to work, which includes how you dress how you show up the energy that you're kicking off. And, and then when you get home, presumably, you set that uniform down or you keep it in the car and then you come into your home and you have a different life experience or you have different emotions or feelings that you show or so I think that there you're exactly right. It's all coming together and it's creating a little bit of a rock

JJ Parker  07:00
Well, totally like if you think about some of the words that we've used in the past certainly, like you've heard people's like, I leave my work at work, right? I hang my hat up when I come home. All those kinds of metaphors, right are saying that like, I'm a different person at work than I am at home. And it has separation of them. But nowadays, we don't we did. We're not like, afforded that opportunity. Maybe. Yeah, I wonder like, was that right in the first place? Like where we can create in like, internal conflict, like, why are we creating like, multiple personalities for ourselves? Hmm, that seems stressful.

Melissa Albers  07:39
Yeah, but it's so normal. I totally agree with you. Like, how do you for you like when you're just this is such a, this is such a good conversation. When you're at home. How have you noticed that you are showing up? Do you notice that you're really different on the outside or do you just like feel different or how You know, how do you know if you're acting like you would normally act? Or if you're not acting, you know, like, they're, you're showing some of that stress from how you're feeling?

JJ Parker  08:08
Yeah, well, so let's see. I mean, just just like this week, again, like, running the company during this time, right? I have to, like, like, I'm the leader, right? Like, I need to give everybody confidence and security and all these things. And in my head, I've got this image of what that looks like, right? But the reality is, like, I'm, I'm worried just like, I'm worried, right? Like, I, I'm not, like, I can stand up, I could stand up and give this like, big, sort of like, I got it. You guys. I'm this. Everything's okay. But like, the fact is internally, it's like, I worry just like they were all the employees right to so

Melissa Albers  08:57
that's so good, JJ. And that's just like being really awesome. honest and like for me, in my career of being a coach, I feel like this tremendous burden, not the burdens, not the right word. I feel a tremendous desire expectation to be that center column that people can lean on. And especially now I feel like people are way more open and way more authentic now than they've ever been.

JJ Parker  09:31
I agree. I see it. I mean, I see it in myself. And I've been seeing it in my

Melissa Albers  09:36
Yeah, it's really funny because now just just in this conversation, I'm realizing at the front end of this, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to it's like, oh, you're the coach Melissa, you're supposed to have the answers. You're supposed to have the always know 10 ideas that someone can try, you know, and feeling this pressure that I was putting on myself, to be that and yet As this became more and more time going by, you know, two or three weeks in four weeks in realizing that that is not at all what people were expecting. And and then me putting down some of those strong expectations also made me more vulnerable and more authentic, which was what they actually wanted to begin with.

JJ Parker  10:22
Yeah, is I I've been doing this, like video, the videos to our crew, just kind of about the state of the union. And whenever I did those in the past, we were at the office, there was lights, I had it scripted, right. And I wanted to I was I was very precise about the words I did one last week. Again, in my basement, and I had notes on this Notepad. I was like, Hey, you know what, you guys, I'm just, I'm just gonna read off my notebook and talk to you guys about what's going on in the company. On No scripts. It was wandering a little bit it wasn't that tight. But that was fine. Because it was me authentically just leading the company. It's my basement with what we had. And it was an IT WAS everyone responded really well, there's like, thank you so much. This is so good to hear from you. In a very authentic way. It wasn't the professional JJ. It was like, Yes, JJ, talking to people about how the how scary things are in the world right now and how we're gonna work on getting through it together.

Melissa Albers  11:30
Yes, it you know, you know, I can't help but wonder how we're gonna be on the backside of this duck. And I don't want to say back to normal because I don't I don't like that term. I don't think that there is a normal, I think that we're in a different place and where we're going is a very different place. And I'm really curious what we're going to be like, I'm really looking forward to it like I'm optimistically curious about how we are after this.

JJ Parker  11:58
Well, back During that presentation that I that I was given. Another interesting thing kind of fell out of it. Like, we were talking about tools, right, like video conferencing tools that you all all the people who just are like, I'm working from home and I gotta still figure out how to lead an organization, right? And when I told everybody is like, Listen, you guys, I, this is an opportunity for you to start leading differently. Okay? You're not gonna be leading the way you used to lead like, you don't get to pile everybody into your big conference room and have them all listen to every word you say, right? You're gonna have to do different and not only the tools, right, like how we deliver those messages, but I really like what you're saying is the way we connect with other people though, the way we show up at work, we're gonna have to lead differently there too. Because in in these kinds of times, like the only thing that works is you know, being authentic and vulnerable and Connect really, truly connect with.

Melissa Albers  13:03
Yeah, I think that that connection and that vulnerability, the only way that happens is when you're really aware of yourself and how you are and also your energy, what is the energy that you're kicking off because you can sit on a video and people can feel your energy before you say a word, and that's what they're following. And then when you follow that with just, you know, like you were talking, it's unscripted and authentic. They get that energy and they hear your authenticity. And people are right there. You know, people are right there. So I agree. It's a huge opportunity for us.

JJ Parker  13:35
Well, I look forward to seeing how people start showing up different at work, right, how home the home version of you and the professional version of you get all mixed up together until I'm super awesome version of

Melissa Albers  13:54
you. Me too. That'll be awesome conversation We've enjoyed this conversation immensely and hope you have to tune back in next time. And if you've got ideas you'd like us to explore, drop us a message on our Facebook page.

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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