Bringing the Undivided Self into the Workplace

Written by Ade

I'd like you to sit back and think about your work for a minute and then mentally answer these questions:

  • Do you feel that you are a different person in your private life, from when you are at work?
  • In order to survive (and thrive) in your workplace, do you feel you have to leave a part of yourself at the door before you enter?
  • Do you feel that you need to wear a mask in order to make it through your working day?
  • Do you feel you are not being your authentic self at work?


  • Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions?  And if so, do you know which part of your Self you take work?

The inquiry into ‘which part of our Self do we bring to work?’ has always fascinated me. I remember my entry into the workplace in 1988, and a colleague telling me that she did not socialize with people from work after office hours. She explained that she kept her work and personal life separate and could not imagine bringing the people from either side together. Her views, have been echoed by many other colleagues and friends that I have met, as my own career journey unfolded during the subsequent years. Some were not as vocal with their opinion, like my ex-colleague, but their actions unconsciously confirmed that many adopted her view – for most of them, on leaving the organization, ceased to keep in contact with colleagues; despite being ‘close’ during the working relationship.

Developing and maintaining a divide between our life, ‘Inside Work’ and ‘Outside Work’ is pretty commonplace into many workplaces. When I started looking into the issue of ‘The Undivided Self at Work’ some years ago, I remember someone saying to me ‘work is my escape, it distracts me from my personal life’. Others have asked, ‘why does it matter if I keep my personal life separate from my work life?’ And recently, someone in a session I was facilitating said ‘I am only interested in my staff doing their job, I’m not interested in their personal circumstances’ – that certainly being a signal to those staff that they should bring their divided Self to work.

Discussions about ‘Work-Life balance’ also unintentionally do not help the idea of ‘the undivided self in the workplace’. For it makes the assumption that ‘work’ is separate from ‘life’, as opposed to ‘work is part of life’ and ‘life is part of work’. The fact is, when we go into the workplace, whether we like it or not our whole Self and Life comes to work with us – this comprises of our entire life story, the ups, downs, emotional wounds, trauma, celebrations, insecurities and everything else in between - as the saying goes, ‘wherever you go, there you are’.

The parts of the Self that you do not consciously bring into the workplace, come unconsciously with you and through encounters with colleagues, ‘management’ and clients, they gradually leak out in a variety of ways. When left unaddressed they can go toxic. In fact, many workplace situations involving disputes, conflicts, long-term absence, poor performance, and disengagement, when deeply explored, can be attributed to two factors. Firstly, you (the individual) bring your divided Self to work. Secondly, the organizational culture often does not welcome this undivided Self.

 The Workplace Archetypes_1.jpg

So how do individuals start cultivating the undivided Self at Work and how do organizations start cultivating cultures that embrace the undivided Self? Well, those are the issues explored in ‘The Undivided Self at Work’ workshop.


The workshop will give participants an opportunity to explore who they are at work and provide them with a framework to enable them be undivided in their work. Other outcomes include:

  • Identify the Roles and Identities that you use to navigate the Workplace
  • Clarify the belief and values system that are at your core identity
  • Being more aware and aligned with the different aspects of yourself
  • Feeling more integrated in and out of the workplace
  • Being undivided and engaged in and out of the workplace

For further information on ‘The Undivided Self at Work’ workshop or to set up an appointment to discuss, you can contact me on:


Skype: walkwithade

Telephone: UK +44 (0) 7930 186 409; NL +31 (0) 642 522 705


Ade Adeniji

Categorised Under: Work & Career,


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