The world that lies before us is often a mysterious, and sometimes a frightening place. Navigating it effectively takes a personal quest for authenticity.
Authenticity allows us to live a life of courage, compassion, and connection. It does not eliminate anxiety, but it tempers it so that it does not become a lifestyle. As we grow in authenticity we are able to overcome toxic mindsets that lead to corrosive habits.
A lack of authenticity prevents us from transforming our cold and lifeless database into a power plant of insight, creativity, and influence. And it develops daily – not in a day.
Following are 5 mindsets that help us become more authentic.
1. Be generous in promoting others. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who come into the room and say, “Here I am!”, and those who come into the room and say, “There YOU are!” Don’t allow fear or pride to retard your promotion of others. When someone does an act that shines, the authentic person applauds and affirms. They will also hire people that have the capacity to “steal” their job. They recognize that when you shine, they shine as well. As Warren Bennis use to say, “When someone’s star shines brightly, let it light up your path rather than obscure it.”
2. Don’t compare yourself to others. Authenticity involves letting go of what others think. There is no quicker way to put a dent in your authenticity than trying to be a replica of someone else’s opinion. The word authenticity comes from the word author. You must be the author of your own life. Find your voice. Stop living out other’s scripts and start living your own. Comparison leads to self-contempt and destroys personal creativity to live our own life – the best life possible. Here’s a short exam: Do you compare your life, husband, wife, kids, home, or even your shrubs, to other people’s? Your answer will quickly point out the more important things to consider.
3. Embrace your life story. Everyone has a life story. Until you embrace it you will never understand yourself at your core. Personal development is only possible with self-discovery, and that can only come as you reframe your past and discover how it has impacted the person you are today. Don’t misunderstand. Your life story is not your life — but it is your story. And knowing that narrative is a powerful force. Your story includes childhood experiences (including trauma), victories, losses, failures, illnesses, relationships (positive and negative), rejection, discrimination, and exclusion. How you sort that out becomes a part of your narrative that plays over and over in your head. As you make sense of it your authenticity will grow. You are now connecting with yourself at your core. It includes understanding your ego needs, your insecurities, and your fears. At this point denial is our greatest hurdle. Awareness helps these experiences become directors instead of distractors or destroyers.
4. Know what you value. Your expectations are based on your values. Are they aligned with what’s important? Are they centered around the value of self-worth or net-worth? The question we all get, “What do you do?”, is often a subtle attempt to discover net-worth. Knowing what brings you true happiness and fulfillment helps avoid this entrapment. Chasing the “materialistic” chicken around the yard does not allow you to run towards something meaningful.
5. Be yourself everywhere. Authentic living is being the same wherever you are. An authentic life is an integrated life. If you squeeze an orange at the office, orange juice comes out. If you squeeze it at home tomato juice shouldn’t come out. Integration of one’s life has been likened to a house. There is a bedroom for your personal life, the study for your professional life, the family room for your family life, the living room for your friendships, and the game room for your recreation and fun. If you knocked down all the interior walls, would you be the same person throughout the house? Being the same in each area enhances personal and professional equilibrium. Equilibrium comes from balance, and balance comes from integration.
A few days ago I acquired the jersey of Mariano Rivera, the last player to have Jackie Robinsons #42, and the all-time saver in major league baseball. The symbol that gives that jersey value is Major League Baseball’s seal of authenticity. Authentication increases that jersey’s value and demand.
Authenticity does the same for you and me.
What steps are you taking to become more authentic?
What past experiences have had the greatest impact on you?