At the beginning of 2019, I took a stand for authenticity by doing the Leading with Authenticity show. I feel fortunate that in the roles I’ve had throughout my life, I’ve shown up authentically. That doesn’t mean it’s always crystal clear for me who I am and if I’m doing the right thing. I simply know at the core of who I am I fiercely believe in honesty, integrity and transparency.
While working in corporate, I’ve seen people abandon their authentic selves for a paycheck, a raise, a promotion, or a sale and through this I hear, see, and feel the pain they go through in doing so. When we repress who we truly are to make others like us or accept us, we are missing out on opportunities and setting ourselves up for failure.
In doing the Leading with Authenticity show, I had the pleasure of interviewing 22 experts – best-selling authors, TEDx speakers, a psychologist, counselors, and coaches on the topics of authenticity, leadership, courage, confidence, and success habits. In doing so, I learned quite a bit, and have compressed what I learned into five categories, which I’m including below.
We crave authenticity
Social media provides a platform for people to showcase their best selves. We see the vacation pictures, the cute kids, the merits and awards but we miss out on the behind the scenes. We miss the hard work, the temper tantrums, and the sacrifice for the things that look so easily attainable. Not surprisingly, the people who take the opportunity to be vulnerable and showcase reality are the ones that we gravitate to and appreciate. We think to ourselves, “wow, I do that too” and “that’s so courageous that they shared that.”
When we’re at a social event, do we spend more time with the people who are fake or the ones that show-up as their real selves who are doing their best while also facing the same struggles we all do? Don’t we feel better when we’re with real people rather than fake people?
We fear authenticity
The ultimate crux of authenticity is that although we crave it, we fear it! It’s easier to share the surface stuff than it is to share the real stuff.
When we hold back what we truly think and believe, provided that we’re not being intentional to hurt another person, we’re doing ourselves and the people around us a disservice. The reason is because our thoughts, beliefs, and ideas are unique and add diverse context to a subject.
Will our ideas always be the best ideas ever? Probably not. But, that’s ok. The more we share our ideas, the more we’ll learn about ourselves and other people. Your authentic voice matters.
How do we get it?
When I was researching speakers for the show, I got really confused. I was reading many books, articles, blog posts, etc. on the topic of authenticity and I started to question if I really knew what it meant to be authentic! What I settled on is that we are dynamic beings – meaning we change all the time.
Whether we’re hungry, hormonal, or suffering from loss, our authenticity shifts. Plus, it doesn’t always make sense to blurt out exactly what we’re thinking – especially when we lack consideration for other people’s feelings.
So, how do we get to be authentic? We have the privilege of getting to know ourselves. What do we value in our life? What goals do we have? What are we like when we’re fully present? What dreams do we have? How do we show up for our loved ones?
The best way I’ve learned to figure out the answers to these questions is to carve out time for my own personal development. Through things like reading, reflection, writing, and meditation I learn more about who I am and what I value. Then, from there, I align my choices with what I find.
Each expert I interviewed for the show expressed a commitment to personal development in some form – whether it was connection like Michelle Tillis Lederman, success habits like Marc Reklau, doing work with passion like Tikiri Herath and Cassandra Gaisford, recognizing your own value like Kim Giles and Lynn Whitbeck, or selling from the heart by using what you value in your own life like Larry Levine.
People are people
When I worked at Marvel Studios in Hollywood, I spoke with all different kinds of people – actors, singers, directors, producers, heads of studios, writers, etc. Through that experience I learned that people have similar dreams, doubts, concerns, and thoughts no matter who they are, what they do, or how successful they are.
When I got to interview people who I greatly admire all over the globe for the show, I was reminded of this again. The experience taught me not to hesitate asking for mentorship and guidance from a variety of people. It also taught me to be focused in what I ask them, so that we’re using the time wisely.
We do our best when we work together
Do you know that Albert Einstein had a mentor? His name was Max Talmey. He was an ophthalmologist and a regular dinner guest at the Einstein table when Albert was growing up. Max gave Albert books about science when he was a kid.
In Melinda Gates’ book, The Moment of Lift, she writes frequently of the partnership she has with her husband, Bill Gates. She also discloses that most of Bill’s success has come out of working with business partners.
And, really, who would Oprah be without Gayle?
When we have the support and ideas from other perspectives, we thrive. Teaming up with others can help us hone in on who we are authentically and gives us an opportunity to show up that way too.
In summary, spend time with yourself to reflect and learn about who you are and what you value, share it with others, use your voice, embrace the fear and do it anyway, and join me in taking a stand for authenticity.