Authenticity: What it Really Means

Our instincts draw us towards authentic individuals.

Think about one of your most amusing, real, and charismatic friends. I conjure up Sarah with her red curly hair, her robust laugher, her ability to find joy and wit in every interaction, and her unflappable ability to be her true self regardless of audience and pressure. I used to envy her ability to step outside of the quintessential stereotype and into the world of uniqueness. Is this authenticity in its purest form?

I used to think so until I recently read “The Modern Trusted Advisor” by Alan Weiss and Dr. Nancy MacKay. Their definition stopped me in my tracks. They describe authenticity as “Owning our own feelings and being accountable, understanding the impact of our actions on others, and being honest about what we need versus what we want.” Merriam-Webster describes authentic as “real or genuine,” and “true and accurate.” It’s as though Weiss and MacKay took the bones of Merriam-Webster’s definition and put some meat on it.

Our instincts draw us towards authentic individuals. It’s as though we have this gravitational pull toward their realness. The spurious individuals put up immediate red flags with their “commission breath” and “sleazy sales.” We can almost see them compromising their true self to make a deal or create a connection, albeit, a fake one. Realness breeds trusting relationships and fakeness breeds ill-suited relationships that often end badly. What team do you want to be on?

Action steps to practicing and reaping authenticity:

  1. Stop the mini-me syndrome – Diversity and uniqueness build strong, high-functioning teams. Hire people with different skills and abilities. Be aware of whether or not you’re trying to change the individuals to be like you. Honor all varieties of voices and perspectives. Conflict is ok. The key is making sure it is a productive conflict.
  1. Reflect on your interactions to assess if you were compromising your true self – Did you uphold your core values and your organization’s mission? Did you try to fit into the other person’s mold or stick with your own?
  1. Eliminate imposter syndrome – You―yes, you―deserve all the good that this world has to offer. You are not a fraud. Get rid of self-doubt. Never put yourself down for succeeding. In the words of Stewart Smalley from Saturday Night Live, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.”
  1. Choose real, not games – You’ll attract more of the right-fit people when you are yourself. The faker you are, the shallower your pond.
  1. Do your best, be yourself, and be satisfied – Sticking to who you are, your core values, and upholding them as best as you can, will give you more peace of mind. Peace of mind leads to better sleep, less guilt, and more integrity

Additional Offerings:

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams.

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back him. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress.

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