Our keen ability to blend in may have become such an instinctive ritual for so many of us, that I’ll use it as the excuse for having spent the beginning of my own career as a “conforming chameleon.” As the eager-to-please (and younger) version of myself, I chose to adapt to organizations without purpose-driven missions or with leadership styles based on authenticity, integrity, or genuine creativity.
For decades, I set my personal values aside and used my creativity (as a product designer) to generate a multitude of plastic products that fuelled the very modern-day problem I was initially hoping to help solve. My suppressed concerns with unsustainable design were briefly considered by employers at times, but it became very clear that chasing profits was so often the ultimate goal hidden behind vague corporate missions. I’ll be the first to admit that when one receives praise from company executives, it can certainly soothe the discomfort that comes with burying your beliefs.
Reflecting back on my experience, I gained three profound insights which completely transformed the nature of my current career.
- A creative individual can make contributions that have unintended negative consequences even when the objective was not a malevolent one.
- A clear mission is required as an unwavering blueprint in order to attain the alignment of personal values and core beliefs between an organization, employees, collaborators, clients, and society.
- Building a solid foundation for authentic leadership is crucial in any organization regardless of whether its purpose is traditional or non-traditional.
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