We just had our office Halloween party. Everyone came dressed to play. It was a wonderful injection of fun energy into our normal day.
There was a dinosaur (pajamas dinosaur), Gilligan, Wednesday Addams, A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell (that’s Mario Lopez from Entertainment Tonight for you Millennials) and a drunk dog (long story). Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail won our costume contest. It was rigged. Totally rigged.
I used to dread the office costume thing. There’s the pressure to do it, or not do it. What do I wear? Will other people be going all out? Do I make a costume? Do I rent one? Do I go off the shelf? Why do I hate this so much? Office parties kick the judging mind into overdrive.
This year, I went as Elvis. Later stage, fat Elvis if I’m being honest. Not only did the team have fun, I had a blast (despite one of our expat millennials not knowing who Elvis was. Hrmph.)
I’m a stressed type A personality. Office costume parties don’t come naturally to me. But being Elvis brought up a number of things that I love to do anyway. In short, it reminded me to be the person I want to be. Not an overweight rocker with a penchant for banana and peanut butter sandwiches. But someone those closest to me would call fun, carefree and always up for a good time.
The longer I’ve gone in my career, the more difficult it has become to tap into that inner joy that really defines who I am. Who I want to be. Playing dress up provided a number of unexpected reminders.
First, we all wear masks.
Unfortunately, most of us wear costumes of the tough boss, Mr. or Mrs. serious. I’m in charge, I have to look good. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a certain way, looking a certain way and expecting others to play along. With practice, it’s so much more rewarding to let go, be a little goofy and just be yourself… if you can remind yourself to do it. So if you’re going to put on a mask, why not put on a good one?
Second, be the character that you love - with or without the mask on.
And love other people. Being Elvis reminded me how much I love to goof around. I tend to take things too seriously. It’s a habit I’m working hard to break. Sitting in meetings and having people laugh and not take things too seriously is an amazing feeling. And you don’t need a wig, rhinestones or a sweaty scarf to keep the mood light. You just need to be yourself. And invite other people to poke fun at your when you’re not.
Finally, set triggers in your life to make fun a priority.
With my young sons, it’s easy. I just give in to whatever games they want to play next. Silliness follows, and we all love each other and have a great time. The same can happen at work if we just get out of our own way. Give in to what’s going on. The next recommendation for karaoke? Yes. The adult Halloween parade around the block? Double yes. The competition to name the company newsletter? Yes again.
We all get so caught up in the wrong costumes. Pretending to be a certain way because we feel that it’s expected. If Elvis were here (and who say’s he’s not?), he might share the following advice...
If you’re stressed, That’s Alright Mama. Everything’s gonna be alright. Be yourself. There’s no need to be The Devil in Disguise at the office. If the weight of your job has you All Shook Up, try a mindfulness practice. Chill out. Breathe. Suspicious Minds never helped anyone. Learn to let go, have fun and trust in your co-workers. They won’t judge you. And if they do, who cares. It doesn’t mean anything. Don’t sulk thinking that others should Treat Me Nice. Be that yourself and others will follow. Bring the fun in your actions with A Little Less Conversation. Don’t get stuck in doing it My Way all the time. Be open to other people’s ideas. Do these things and you might just find you cause yourself a little less T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
So put on the wig, the glasses and the rhinestone cape every day. Be yourself. The person you want to be vs. the character you’ve become from years of trying to look good, be tough and impress.
Being yourself may not always feel like the easiest thing to do, but It’s Now or Never. Uh-hu-huh.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
Posted by Joe Burton- 03 November, 2016
Joe is an entrepreneur in the digital wellness space, former president of Headspace, and spent fifteen years as a global COO in public companies. He's an alumnus of Harvard Business School and a regular contributor to Forbes, Business Insider and The Huffington Post. He's worked in over 50 countries and travels the world speaking on topics including disruption, culture, resiliency and mindfulness.