What would it be like to show up as 100% yourself – no masks, no pretending to be someone else, no wondering how you “should” act or be? How would that feel? Scary? Freeing? Empowering?
What if people loved you for simply being you and it helped grow your brand and business? Would you commit to being authentic all the time?
What Is Authenticity?
Let’s start by getting clear on what it means to be authentic. Practically speaking, it means that you are 100% “you” – however you define that – with all of your quirks, personality intricacies, imperfections and unique character. If you think about it, it’s pretty hard NOT to be you, even if you’re trying to imitate someone else.
The big impact of authenticity is in the being-ness of it – the comfort or discomfort you feel about being in your own skin – which is broadcast throughout your life and business. If you’re trying really hard to be or act like someone else, you’ll likely have feelings of being a fraud or not good enough, act self-consciousness and have other negative emotions that impact your confidence and how you show up in the world. Not only are you covering your brilliantly uniqueness with a shroud of negative emotion, that negativity is communicated in all that you do. People can sense it and that’s what can turn them off to you, your message or your product.
Contrary to the message of conformity that is often touted in our society (you should look like this or act a certain way for people to like you), letting your genuine character shine will help you stand out in an ocean of sameness and connect with those people who want exactly what you have to offer.
Authenticity Creates Deep Connection
Years ago when I was a financial advisor, I struggled with this very question of authenticity while building a business. When I started, I often felt like a fraud. How could I advise people with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on where to invest their money when my financial status paled in comparison? What could little ‘ol me possibly offer them?
What I came to realize – and what my clients told me – was that I was very good at taking a complex and often intimidating subject like investing and breaking it down into understandable information and action steps. I discovered that one of my greatest strengths is teaching others and I absolutely loved educating my clients about money. When I focused on the being-of-service-by-educating-my-clients part of financial advising, I was able to connect with my clients at a deeper level and felt great about what I was doing.
There is no bigger loss to you or anyone else than when you are not being your authentic self. You deny yourself and everyone around you the pleasure of your true nature and the true gifts you have to offer.
Let Your Personality Shine
Authenticity begins with bringing your life in alignment with your values. A disconnect between your values and how you show up in life will quickly communicate inauthenticity to those around you and erode your inner confidence. I’ve outlined below a quick exercise that can help you get started on the path of embracing your uniqueness and shouting it out to the world.
- Start by writing down your values. What’s important to you – about your life, the people you interact with, the kind of business(es) you’re involved with? Examples from my life are: integrity, spending quality time with my family, maintaining dear friendships, supporting businesses that are socially conscience, cultivating spiritual connection, engaging in philanthropic giving.
- Compare your life and values. Does your current life reflect your values? If not, why not? Where are you prioritizing other things over those that are truly important to you? What changes could you make to bring your life (and business) more into alignment with your values?
- Upping your game. How could you embody your values at a higher level and “up your game”? Where in your life and business could you communicate more authentically and with whom? What would that look like? Would you inject more of your personality into your brand or message, would you change jobs (link to job you hate blog post), or would you give up doing something you feel you “need” to do because someone else says so? Look for areas where your values and what you’re doing don’t match up and explore ways to bring them into alignment…then start doing it!
When you bring how you live your life into alignment with your values, you will begin to define what it means for you to live authentically. The expression of authenticity will be different for each of us, as we are each like snowflakes and individually unique, but the empowering shift that occurs when you embrace your true nature is universal.
I’ll be exploring how to embrace your authenticity and its implications on business, Brand You and success in upcoming posts.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from my readers!
- Where are you hiding your uniqueness in your business and life?
- What limiting beliefs do you hold about yourself that you try to keep from showing the world?
- When has being inauthentic cost you – in time, friendships, clients, your self-esteem?
- How have you been rewarded for embracing your unique personality and gifts?