Be Authentic! Authenticity is key! Lead by authenticity!
We’ve all heard the buzz word flying around in business, marketing, relationships, life in general. But, what does that actually mean? And how can that be a huge problem sometimes?
First of all, being authentic is not just about being your best, most positive self. Yes, that’s great to show up that way as much as possible. However, AUTHENTICITY means being REAL with the moment. So, if you’re pissed off, angry, annoyed, etc - it’s ok to feel that and learn to express it in a way that’s not destructive/hurtful to another.
Authenticity is being self-aware and relating from that space.
The trouble with authenticity being such a huge focus lately, though, is that it does not automatically mean good or bad. Unfortunately, you can be authentically yourself and be a not nice person. You can be authentically mean, rude, or unhappy and you’re still being “authentic” to you.
Authenticity in marketing often connotes reliability, integrity, and trustworthiness, but they are not synonyms and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. However, you absolutely can explore your authenticity in ways that highlight and expand your more compassionate traits.
How can you be authentically YOU? Here are three places to start playing (although only YOU have the answers):
1) Who are you?
Don’t look to “find” yourself, but get to know yourself. Explore your values outside of what’s been taught/given to you and find what feels “right” in the body. Pretend for a second you are a new friend and get acquainted with yourself in a new way. The biggest difference in getting to know yourself vs. getting to know another person is that unfortunately you have nowhere to go if you discover something you don’t really like about yourself. The benefit of having to face that, though, is you do have the power to change the characteristic if it’s you (you don’t have that power to change someone else no matter how hard you try - sorry, not sorry!). And, sometimes being more authentic to you isn’t a matter of changing the characteristic at all, but coming to love it in a new way.
For example, I know I can be stubborn. It drives me nuts sometimes because I see myself digging my heels in for things that don’t particularly matter to other people. I think to myself “why can’t I just let this go and move on?!” However, when I observe someone else or something else (like a bulldog on a walk) being stubborn, I sometimes find it comical. I know it’s temporary and it’ll pass and there’s something being seen as valuable in the moment that’s seemingly unimportant to another. I’m able to experience more humor and lightness when witnessing stubbornness in that outside way, so the next time I find myself being stubborn I try to find that humor a little more and experience more grace.
2) What do you stand for?
This puts your values into action. If you see a homeless person*, do you feel inclined to give them money when they ask because you see them as people in need? Do you tell them to get a job because you see them as a capable individual? Or, do you give them money AND help them get on their feet because you see they’re struggling and as a capable human being? *This is a simplistic example with many other options/possibilities/nuances, but hopefully you get my drift here.
Figuring out what stokes the fire of inspiration and action within will help fuel a life that nourishes you. Authenticity is neither good nor bad, but when you are aligned with what lights you up, taking action towards what you believe in helps create a better world.
3) How do you express yourself?
Do you cry at commercials? Or do you practice stoicism - where your emotions can be experienced, but not really expressed? Do you dance & play in the rain or rock an umbrella and trench coat to shield yourself? Again, neither is right or wrong, good or bad, but what comes more naturally to you? Finding your way of expressing and connecting to those around you is an important skill that is cultivated throughout our lives. There’s no perfect way to do it all the time and there are certainly ways that are more successful than others. Understanding how you specifically bridge intention and expression - so that you are communicating with another (rather than communicating at them) is a great tool to living an authentic life. You start to be more comfortable with emotions - yours and theirs - and handle moments of pause with more ease (instead of needing to fill the uncomfortable space). When you learn to express yourself in a way that feels more natural to you, you start to witness and welcome others doing the same, thus creating space for more variety and recognition.
Authenticity is being true to who you are and not trying to fake it as something/someone you’re not. You honor the special blend of everything that makes you YOU without feeling the need to be anything else. It’s a muscle to strengthen rather than a destination to reach.
Being authentically you is recognizing and accepting yourself, your choices, and your actions in the moment. It’s like the difference between making brownies from scratch to bring to a party vs. buying brownies from the store and putting them on a plate so they look homemade. There’s nothing wrong with buying brownies from a store (it is sometimes easier to let someone else make them!), but own it & don’t tell people you made the brownies you bought from the store.
Authenticity is practicing radical honesty with yourself and the moment and owning it.
Where can you be more authentically you? Try it and see where people respond differently to you.