You hear a lot about being authentic. What does it mean to be authentic? Authenticity is about presence, living in the moment with conviction and confidence and staying true to yourself. Everyone wants to be authentic. Though the people who preach its virtue often don’t understand exactly what the word means. Authentic is defined as: “not false or copied; genuine; real.
Living in alignment with your actions
Being your true authentic self means what you say in life aligns with what your actions. It’s about being true to yourself through your thoughts, words, and actions, and having these three areas match each other. Your authentic self goes beyond what you do for a living, what possessions you own, or who you are to someone (mom, brother or girlfriend). It’s who you are at your deepest core. It is about being true to yourself through your thoughts, words, and actions, and having these three areas match each other. When we aren’t in touch with our authentic self, it’s easy to go into “people pleasing” mode and do and say things based off of what is expected of us, or based off of social and peer pressure. Here is a formula I came across in a training which appealed to me.
What can happen when you’re not living in alignment
Keep in mind, your authentic self is completely different from what our society encourages these days, which is leading with your best self. There is a time and place for presenting our best self: job interview, first dates, etc. However, when we lead with our best self too often, that can leave us editing and managing very real and unique aspects of who we truly are, leaving behind our authenticity.
For example, on social media like Instagram and Facebook, people share amazing pictures of their life, home, vacation, or latest updates about the cute things their kids are doing. What you will likely not see is pictures of how they burned their cookie , or how messy that new home gets, or the really annoying things their kids are also doing. This kind of “life editing” can be a slippery slope to trying to reach perfection, and losing your true sense of self.
People tend to live their life based on obligations, roles and expectations, and a lot of “should’s.” This can prevent you from living in the moment and focusing on what isn’t in your life, rather than what is.
A personal story
Please remember the word authenticity can mean different things for different people. I want to give you some background on how I started showing up more authentically. This improved my visibility and got me promoted. I like bright colors and nice things. Years ago in the office we all got the same phone. I decide to pimp my phone with a bright red cover. I also carried around a pink binder with my notes and papers for meetings.
One day my manager told me she thought that this did not look so professional. She recommended I switch back to using the standard phone and notepads as this might influence how other people saw me and hinder my promotion chances.’ I believe she did this with the best intentions and was looking out for me.
For 2 weeks I switched to using the standard boring black phone, grey notepads etc… and blended into the crowed. However, it did not make me happy. I felt limited in expressing myself. Finally I made a conscious decision to bring back my colourful stuff. I decided this is me and they should except me as I am with the unique perspective and flair I bring to the table.
Discover, embrace and be you
First I needed to become self-aware of what made me happy and fit with my personality style. Next find the courage to be myself!
Even if others told me I couldn’t or it wasn’t wise. Which is often how they try to package the message. Soon my bold move paid off. Being my self helped me stand out from the bland crowed and got me promoted to an expat position in Switserland.
The quote from CEO was ‘Caroline, you light up the meeting room as soon as you enter. Your creativity, authenticity and visibility is exactly what we need here.’
My key take away from this is discover yourself, embrace who you are and BE YOU!!