by Sylvia Ford-George
Interviewed a young lady once who came to the interview poised, prepared and dressed to impress. She was naturally comfortable in the suit she wore, and had her hair pulled back into a stylish chignon with bangs. She was professional, pleasant, had an impressive resume filled with noteworthy experience, and handled herself well throughout the interview. She was later selected for the position. After several weeks on the job I ran into her and was shocked by her appearance.
The pulled together, poised professional person that showed up at the interview was missing. I thought that she was just experiencing dress-down Friday and hadn’t quite gotten acclimated to the job, the work, and the system. But I’d seen her several times since then and the person she was representing at the interview was nowhere to be found, which led me to wonder how far will a person go to “win”, and are you really winning if you misrepresent yourself to the point where no one knows who “you” really are?
From the cooks to the landscaper to the President— if you’re working at the White House, you’re winning. You’re the best of the best, working with the best of the best, at what’s thought to be the most prestigious work location ever. You have the credentials, you’ve passed all the tests, and you are working for the President of the United States…at the White House. You have an ivy-league education. You’re part of the National Security Council. You’re being eyed for a senior position at the Pentagon. Your parents must be so proud. And yet…behind that successful persona lies a person who anonymously creates a Twitter account (or two) that inappropriately attacks and mocks your day job; insults your bosses, peers, and other officials; criticizes the policies of the administration you work for; and off-handedly leaks sensitive information. And what you say started out as something fun to do to “parody DC culture”, ends up lasting more than two years, and gets you fired. You then apologize to everyone you insulted, and for violating the trust and confidence placed in you. You were winning. Now no one knows who “you” really are?
As a nation we’re falling off the path of respectful, good, and upright, to walking the path of lies, fraud, deceit, and scandal—all in an effort to win. Actors get paid to misrepresent themselves and pretend to be someone else almost every day of the week. Sexy one day, boring the next, a super hero the day after that. And the best of them make it look authentic, genuine and real. But that’s entertainment AND what they get paid to do. If you aren’t getting paid to be someone else, and you’re just doing it to get what you want, or to have some fun—you may be taking things a bit too far.
People alter and adapt themselves in relationships all the time. You’re always considering your wants and needs and weighing them against friends, family, significant others, and people you have to interact with on a daily basis. You may have to compromise and negotiate, but you should always stay true to who you are. You can’t be a good decent human-being eight hours a day, and cunning and deceitful the rest. Uphold trustworthiness. Be respectful. Follow the code of decency. That’s the only way to win without losing.