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Bring your best self to the table. But which table and which self?

Tables. We all sit at them. The restaurant table, the meeting room table, the boardroom table, the school table, the kitchen table. Many of us find we are different people at different tables in different parts of our lives. But which table benefits from our authentic best self and does it matter?

Being different at different tables can be a good thing; we adapt to the environment and make sound judgements about what's going to serve us well in each situation. Yet many experienced, intelligent and capable people describe their frustration at not being able to bring their best self to really important tables as often as they would like. It's holding them back. They want to make a bigger contribution and have greater impact.

They're not alone. You might recognise the feeling. We can feel confident, articulate and even powerful in one environment but not in another, meaning performance is distinctly different in each.

Success often looks like the the ability to bring the best version of ourselves into less comfortable environments, more of the time. For example, a fabulous leader I know finds she is assertive, clear and highly persuasive at the client table but at the internal firm table her voice dials right down leaving her feeling unable to get her thoughts and ideas heard. What is it that makes this difference? What role are her own perceptions playing and what is it about her sense of identity that is being affected by the people around the table? What could she change and what could those around her change?

Ultimately, what is the table losing as a result?

Exploring the tables where you find yourself at your very best is a revealing way to unlock potential. Think carefully. Picture a time you have felt you are at a table of confidence. You're in flow, you're at your best, you love it there. Get comfortable and settle in. Who is there? What is your role and contribution? What are you telling yourself while you're there? What are you doing/thinking/feeling that makes it your table of strength?

Now, compare that to your table of doubt. We've all got one. Take a seat and look around. Where are you and who is there? Consider the same questions about your role, the people around you, the thoughts, feelings and actions at play. What do you notice? What does it reveal about both you and the impact you are allowing the people who sit there to have? What are you telling yourself while you are there?

The question is how you can invite the you at the table of confidence to the table of doubt. Authentic presence, as Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones put it, is "being yourself, more, with skill", not pretending to be someone you're not. (#Why Should Anyone be Led by You). We're not talking about adopting a persona but we are talking about how you can bring the very best of your authentic strengths, gifts and talents into new or challenging situations.

A great place to start is to know what you are brilliant at and own the feedback you get on your effectiveness at your most successful tables. Then see what you can bring with you. For example, how and why might you bring your convivial and confident restaurant self to a high stress project team table? What can you uniquely bring from the family table to the boardroom table that will make a difference to you and those around you? What would it be like to bring your adept client self to an fraught internal meeting table...or even an awkward wedding guest table? How can your unique strengths serve each table?

Whichever tables you find yourself at, it is possible to minimise the factors that send your authentic self into hiding and to dial up the best of the real you by accessing your signature strengths and most positive mindset. Understanding the conditions and mindset for you to be at your best and navigating common thinking traps can be powerful tools to be yourself, more, with skill. Coaching is a catalytic way to get to the heart of this for an individual and create actionable insights that lead to real change. If you want to uncover the best version of yourself more of the time, great coaching will help you do exactly that.

Own your brilliance. Remember, the table has so much to learn from you.


Georgie Rudd is the Founder and Director of Rudd Coaching Ltd. She coaches leaders in global FTSE 100 businesses and Partnership firms. Having worked as a senior leader in both, she understands the challenges and pressures and delivers high impact development that makes a difference. The approach is best described as a high empathy, high challenge 'thinking partnership' that delivers actionable intelligence for her clients. This means the work is outcomes-focused, facilitating insights that lead to real change. She coaches on a wide range of topics including helping leaders to deliver strategy, create boundaries and build resilience, lead with empathy and connect brilliantly with others, increase personal impact and dial up self-belief.

For a conversation about corporate or private coaching, contact

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