With the unique combination of being a Wall Street banker and Bhakti monk, Rasnath Dasa was a must-see speaker at our Hello Etsy ideas conference this past spring. In his lecture, Rasnath addressed the subject of reimagining work, relaying the story of how he broke down the artifice he’d created to fulfill workplace expectations, encouraging us all to do the same.
Many of us have experienced the feeling of needing to leave one’s personal life, and sometimes entire personality, at the office door. Perhaps it’s even driven some of us to the shelter of self-employment. Rasanath’s talk highlights the ways in which isolating our true selves from our professional personas drives us to rely upon inauthentic forms of external validation. Living with our egos under threat makes us subject to fear. This leads to competition with our colleagues and a need to feel superior. It drives us to ignore other people’s gifts and amplify their weaknesses in order to elevate ourselves.
Rasnath asks us to imagine a workplace in which we have the freedom to be honest about our mistakes, to collaborate rather than compete, and where every employee’s unique gifts are valued. Sounds good, right? So, how do we create it? His solution is simple: be the first to shed the mask behind which your insecurities are hiding. By holding a space for vulnerability and making it okay to not have the answer, to need help, to admit that we are struggling, our personal and professional selves can integrate.
Rasnath challenges each of us to be the first to break the cycle — be open about what you don’t know and see what you can learn, show your weaknesses and be astonished by who shows up to help, and most importantly, remove the artificial image and watch those around you follow your lead — paving the way for honest connection.