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You Don't Need to be Barbie or Ken to Succeed in Corporate America Many think there's an ideal behavioral pattern they must adhere to in order to be successful in business.

By Michael Mamas Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jens-Ulrich Koch | Getty Images

Pretty much everybody these days is onto the idea that we shouldn't try to look like a Barbie or Ken doll. It's unnatural, unrealistic and unhealthy. Not nearly as many people understand that success isn't about being a behavioral Barbie or Ken. Many in corporate America have the idea that there's an ideal behavioral pattern they must adhere to in order to be successful in the business environment.

Of course there are certain parameters that need to be respected, but what makes a person a behavioral success in the business environment is very individual. There's a very natural charm, grace, and personal charisma inherent to every person on the planet. Though common, stripping that away in an attempt to become a Barbie or Ken undermines the naturalness that is rightfully one's greatest ally in dealing with others.

Related: 10 Behaviors You Never See in Successful People

Rachel is my personal secretary. She's been working with me for a number of years. Yet I only learned about her personal experience with the Barbie and Ken doll syndrome recently. In her twenties, Rachel in her aspirations to be successful in business had an idealized notion of how she was supposed to act and look. She went so far as to have a picture on her wall of the type of business woman she would emulate. She dressed like the woman in the picture. She held herself and spoke in a manner she imagined that woman would. She even adhered to it on her off time, going to the gym regularly, networking properly and even stuck to it through the design of her home and the magazines she read. Over a period of time, Rachel perfected that persona. However, the typical problems of the Barbie and Ken doll persona came up in her career. Rachel's story nicely illustrates many of the problems people face when they fall into the Barbie and Ken doll trap.

Relationship problems.

The first issue that arose for Rachel was that she wasn't getting the response she expected from other people. It was as if they mechanically kept a distance from her. At first she couldn't understand why, because after all, she was doing everything perfectly. It was only after a great deal of time and reflection that Rachel began to understand the problem. People viewed her as disingenuous. They could tell something wasn't right. They had a natural aversion to her. They simply didn't trust her or feel inclined to cultivate a good heartfelt working relationship with Rachel, the automaton. She realized she thought she was moving closer to her maximized potential, but was actually moving further and further away from it.

Related: 7 Behaviors of Successful People

Lack of self-worth vs. natural charm.

A fundamental issue Rachel had was a lack of sense of self-worth. She didn't feel like the natural and real Rachel was good enough. The reality was that she needed to be comfortable and rest into her true nature. There is a natural charm in every individual. It's just a matter of finding it, getting comfortable with it, and confidently living from it. Over time, Rachel began to realize that and her career and business relationships began to flourish.


Rachel had another problem with the way she was carrying herself. It was exhausting because it was just not natural for her to do it. Even after it became a habit, it still took a lot of energy to prop up that bogus persona. Eventually, she just couldn't do it anymore. She crashed and burned.

Time for introspection.

It was in that despondent state that Rachel really started to take a look at what was going on and began to understand the problem. Her solution required a great deal of introspection. Over time, she began to realize that Barbie notion of the ideal business woman didn't serve her. She also began to understand that people truly did appreciate her for who she really was. She realized that by bringing that naturalness into the corporate environment. People responded to her in a very positive way. They wanted to work with her. They wanted to please her. They cared about how she felt about them.

Related: How One Person's Ignorant Behavior Insulted an Entire Country

Your true nature.

It may sound trite, but for other people to like you, you have to learn to like yourself. Know there is a unique greatness and beauty in the naturalness of who you are. As Bruce Lee said, the key is to "honestly express oneself". If you can bring that into the corporate environment, people will absolutely respond in a very positive manner. It is refreshing, appealing, and compelling. It's not a matter of having faith in yourself or trusting yourself. Rather, it's a matter of knowing yourself. Some might call it self-confidence, but true self-confidence is not an aggressive or persuasive stance. Rather it is a passive stance of simply resting into and being comfortable with your own true nature, and acting from that place.

Michael Mamas

Founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality

Dr. Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. From personal issues to global trends, Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a "bridge" between the abstract and concrete, the eastern and western, and the ancient and modern. Mamas has been teaching for 35 years and writes on a variety of subjects on his blog, MichaelMamas.net.

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