I read a blog by a former coworker of mine, and it started me thinking about the different faces we put up to the world. This guy's a decent guy at work who clearly likes to have fun in the office, but he can also be a real -- how to put this nicely? -- hardass. He scared the heck out of almost everyone when he first started at our company, and has a reputation -- self-proclaimed, I might add -- for cleaning house as the first order of business in every new job. But when you read his blog you see a tender-hearted dad who's concerned about how nervous his girl will be at the recital and who has picnics after church. Is this the same guy?

Men are famous for compartmentalizing their lives. Work goes here, home over there, and ne'er the twain shall meet. I have been accused of forgetting that I have a family when I am at the office, so I know whereof I speak. But why do we do that? I can understand trying to put on a good face to the world, but the faces that we put on at work are often far worse than the ones we wear at home. What good does that do?

Let me point out that, while men are accused of it more often, I see women doing the same thing. I'm not sure they separate the emotions as neatly as we do, but they certainly have different faces for different situations, and often save the toughest one for the office. So if you're female, don't just laugh and say, "Oh those boys, with their hunter instincts! They're so ridiculous!" Look at your reflection in the monitor, sister, and ask yourself who's looking back at you right now.

I have always been a great advocate for leaving your baggage at the door, whether at work or at home, but I also believe that we all have to be internally consistent if we are to ever be happy. You should forget about work problems when you're at home, and vice versa, so that you can focus on what's in front of you at the time. Those emotions can be separated, but the person having them should remain the same wherever he or she is. Your role may change -- brave leader at work, helpful spouse at home -- but you should still recognize the person in each role to be the same.

Too many people use either their work or home environment as an excuse to do things they wouldn't otherwise do, or at least in ways they wouldn't do them if their family/coworkers/pastor could see them. That's bad, and it always catches up to you. If you're putting on a mask at work or at the office, I urge you to take it off. If you're ashamed of the person behind the mask, then start working to improve that person rather than hiding. We'll all be glad you did.
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