Authenticity – and Why it’s Important
Authenticity has become something of a buzz word and risks losing any real meaning if we’re not careful. So it’s worth looking at why it’s so important as a character trait.
Think of the people you most admire and look up to. They might be larger-than-life global figures or folks in your everyday world. Chances are, though, they all share a similar trait, which is that you see them as authentic people.
Being authentic sounds like a given (“of course I’m me, of course I’m being real”), but it can be more difficult to achieve authenticity than you’d think. Perhaps that’s why it’s a trait that people admire universally – especially when it comes to those in management or supervisory roles.
An authentic person is someone who’s happy with who they are, inside and out. And as a result, they’re free to be more honest, more confident, and more successful across the board.
Authentic people earn admiration because they don’t change with the latest trend or varying moods. Nor do they let unforeseen obstacles slow them down. Instead, they’re trustworthy, a source of stability, and someone to look up to when it comes to pursuing and accomplishing goals.
Being authentic can help all aspects of your life, and especially when it comes to your career. After all, you need self-assurance and confidence to reach those higher positions and supervisory roles. And those traits stem from being comfortable with who you are – an authentic person.
But how can you test and see if you’re indeed being your authentic self, or if there’s room to improve?
How do you develop the traits that lead to authenticity, and to becoming the self-assured and confident leader that people admire?
It starts by assessing, taking on board, and developing the same habits of the truly authentic people you admire. What do we notice when we observe such people?
An authentic person is generally the same person to everyone they meet, whether that’s friends, colleagues, or brand new acquaintances.
This isn’t to say that you should use the same language or gestures in every situation. You likely talk to your boss differently than to your best friend, after all. But authenticity means holding true to your core values, principals, and ideals, regardless of the social situation or setting.
Authentic people do not
Instead, they try to present the best version of themselves while holding true to the core of who they are as an individual.
Authentic people know exactly who they are, and they do not mind if they’re judged and rejected by other people based on their own core values or individuality.
While this sounds like an obvious habit of an authentic person, it’s one that can actually be hard to achieve. We all want to be liked and respected by others, and, sometimes, our eagerness to please can get in the way of who we are, and can actually slow our path towards professional and personal growth.
Authentic people share this desire to be liked and admired, but they understand that there will be times when they face opposition, rejection, and judgment. That’s because they choose not to constantly change their values and cater to everyone else. As long as they act with integrity, they’re OK with the fact that not everyone will like them.
Make a quick mental list of all of your strengths. Maybe you’re caring and empathetic, a strong leader, a great public speaker, or the person that people turn to in order to fix or address certain issues at work or home.
Now, instead, think about your weaknesses, and areas where you might not shine as brightly. Perhaps your organizational skills are lacking, or you’re bad at hammering out details.
The exact specifics of the lists (or even how long they are!) aren’t important – the important thing is that you now know where you excel, and where you need to lean on others to get the job done.
The thing is, authentic people have a firm grasp on where they shine, and where they need help, and this is why they make exceptional leaders. By understanding what they do best, they can focus on those tasks and projects. They can then delegate the other items where their own skill sets are lacking. They do this without shame or self-judgment, because this way of being and getting things done is a fundamental trait of a successful, authentic person.
Because authentic people know who they are, they’re also comfortable with listening carefully and empathically to others. Even so, authenticity doesn’t mean getting taken advantage of. They’re OK with saying no.
Simply put, if you are going to be authentically yourself, you will have a very clear idea of the activities, goals, and projects that will help you accomplish what you want. And you’ll grow more comfortable every day about rejecting any actions that don’t fit with these pursuits.
Authentic people seem to have a lot of confidence, but it can be easy to confuse that with being arrogant. Nothing could be further from the truth. They openly admit to their mistakes.
Your growing authenticity will mean you’re sure of who you are, but are willing to be seen as vulnerable. We all make mistakes from time to time, and you will start acknowledging these mistakes and using them as an opportunity to grow. This is what will dictate if you succeed in the future.
Authenticity is important. It’s your goal. But becoming truly authentic, like the people you admire, can be more difficult than it sounds, and it does take some self-awareness, practice, and perhaps a little help to reach that place.
If you want to build a bridge to becoming more authentic, feel free to reach out to me and my team. We’d love to support you with coaching, training, and other tools for your personal and professional development.