#94 When Good Employees Betray Themselves

when employees betray themselves

Is it possible that as a good employee you might sacrifice your sense of self?

The Good Employee Mentality

Who doesn’t want to be a good employee? 

Let’s face it, many professionals strive to earn a reputation of being good. This seems to be a natural reaction for those who strive to move up.

Some employees want to be labeled as good because they are concerned about what others think. Moreover, the label can feel a bit empowering. After all, good employees aren’t let go during downtimes… or are they? That’s a different discussion for another article, see Post #87, “Am I A Good Employee?

While the desire to be a good employee may be noble, it can come at a grave cost – the cost of negotiating who you are. That is when good employees can betray themselves.

This, my friends, can lead to dire personal consequences – such as decreased confidence and sense of self, for starters.

The Ultimate Betrayal

For illustration, let’s take a look at two employees who can demonstrate self-betrayal vs. self-loyalty. Employee A practices self-betrayal, Employee B practices self-loyalty.

Employee A: Employee A gets caught up in the day-to-day; they fall in line with the crowd without realizing there are other options. This person fears being labeled as an outcast, troublemaker, or worse. They will conform and bend with little hesitation, perhaps because it feels like the safest route. They want to fit in at almost any cost.

Thus, Employee A believes they are doing what they are supposed to do to get ahead and be a good employee. They question nothing or no one and go along with most everything without intentionality.

Employee B: Employee B may get caught up in the day-to-day as well, but they do so knowingly. They fall in line with the crowd only at their own discretion, and only when they believe it’s the proper decision.

Employee B, in the pursuit of goodness, makes conscious decisions to create their own path. They deliberately decide when or if to conform, whether they will fall in line versus object, and when/how to execute boundaries.      

The contrast: Employee A does not practice intentionality in their day-to-day. Rather, they abdicate ownership, which can erode sense of self over time. Employee B, who stays true to their own value system, enjoys the confidence that comes with daily, authentic decision-making.

Good employees can betray themselves when they ignore the power of individual discernment.

Who You are is Non-negotiable

You will always have a choice: to conform or not, to obey or not, to speak up or not, to improve things or not, etc. While remaining loyal to yourself can be the harder choice, the rewards are priceless!

Brene Brown said it best in this YouTube video where she discusses her book, Braving the Wilderness: 

“Our worth and our belonging are not negotiated with other people. We carry those inside of our hearts.

And so for me, I know who I am. I’m clear about that and I’m not going to negotiate that with you. Because then I may fit in for you, but I no longer belong to myself.

And that is a betrayal I am no longer willing to do to myself anymore.”

In the noble pursuit to be noticed, good employees betray themselves when they live out of alignment with their own value systems. A useful question that will help you check in with yourself at any time is: “Am I choosing this decision on my own free will, or am I flowing in the direction of the wind?”

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