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Why do we make people 'earn the right' to live authentically?

Them: "Just be you authentic self!"

Also them: "No, not like that"...

It is true that there are what is considered to be successful neurodivergent adults in the world doing amazing things. The reason that they are able to do amazing things is that they are able to live a life that supports their neurology and sensory profile.

Before COVID, a lot of jobs were not able to be done from home... apparently. How fast did this evolve when we went into lockdown! For me, I am very fortunate that as a Neurodivergent Women I had the education and foresight to know that for me to work in a way that supported what I authentically needed was to become the boss and to be able to make the decisions that supported this, not just for me, but for my team members too. I also learned early in my 20's that back then people always picked the person that looked good on paper (I had all of the degrees and experience) OUTSIDE of the company to come in on top as a Manager. A lot of companies have changed this now, but for a long time this was it, and so I manipulated the system many times by changing jobs every 18 months to 2 years, racking up achievements and job titles until I hit National Management positions in my mid to late 20's. That's the things about the Neurodivergent brain, we see things very differently to the neuro-norm and I made sure to capitalise on that.

Image is of Tan with no shoes on, working on her laptop in nature surrounded by beautiful things, with her son beside her colouring.

When you are in positions of power with a number of significant achievements under your belt people tend to let you do your work in the way that you need to, to get the best result. For me, I employed people that were incredible at the things I was not great at - (ie like face to face networking involving small talk - one way to NOT get the best out of me), paid them well, and supported them in the way THEY needed to continue to do their role well by removing blocks that stopped that. Yes, they needed to have the same driven values as me, but how they got the job done was irrelevant to me. The last thing I needed was carbon copies of me - I already had that covered - I needed people that complimented my skillset not "yes" people that kept me stuck where I was at as a leader and as an organisation. People different from you challenge you...and you need that as uncomfortable as it can be.

But here is the thing, why do we make people 'earn the right to be authentic'. Why can't performance meetings & recruitment interviews be centred around Individuals actually advocating for the supports they need in place to excel in their work, and be able to voice the blocks that are stopping them as part of working together to achieve the best results? This is the REAL work/life balance - life being the accomodations and support you need to succeed. As a leader I get this, and I encourage other Employers to remove the red tape and actually work WITH their individual team members to get the best outcome for you both.

Image is of Rob and two of his Wolfpack clients, sitting on the beach and talking.

I have worked with Rob before back before our Neurodivergent Empowered days many years ago. It didn't take much to get an understanding that Rob works at his best with his clients, out of the 'office'. Get him sitting at a desk doing admin work you not only did not get the result you were after, no matter how many times he was reminded or what deadlines, rewards or punishments you put into place - his AuDHD brain does not work that way!! So when we joined forces the conversation became about how do all of the tasks get done to the high standard we both agreed on, in ways that work WITH our neurology. I didn't make him "earn" it and say, "well you need to do X, Y and Z before I will let you work in a way that supports your neurology and sensory profile"... it was a given, and the creative part was finding the solutions that work long term.

My wish for the future is that all employers take an affirming stance with their staff which includes:

  • Moving away from rewards, punishments and re-inforcers and moving towards strategies, tools and accomodations

  • Moving away from being compliance-focused and moving towards being focused on autonomy and well-being

  • Moving away from the onus of change on the individual and moving towards the onus being distributed between the person and the physical/social environment

  • Moving away from being a power hierarchy between Managers and staff and move towards having cultural humility and power-shifting to the individual

  • Moving away from seeing behaviour as surface-level and moving towards seeking to understand "why"

Image is of Tan looking upwards, having faith we can make neurodivergent-affirming changes in the workplace for both the individual and employer benefit.

Am I a 'dreamer' for wanting this reality? Maybe, but literally it takes people thinking outside the current paradigms to make change a reality, and I have faith that we can make changes like this in the workplace to benefit employers and their staff... and then one day we will look back and wonder why we never did this consistently before.

Sending big love

- 'WC' T ♡

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