There's so much talk about authenticity. It's becoming one of those overused words that people roll their eyes at.
It's easy to talk about authenticity. But actually being authentic? Not so much.
All this pressure to be authentic can start to feel like yet another dang thing that you have to do in order to be successful in your business. One more add-on to an already burgeoning to-do list.
The thing is, authenticity is not really about adding anything on.
It's about letting the artifice, the mask, the act fall away.
When you're authentic in your business, in your marketing, you allow the essence of you to shine through. You allow those endearing quirks, heretofore (using the perfect big word is one of my quirks!) Only seen in the company of trusted loved ones, to come out.
Are not your clients and customers loved ones? They can take it.
Not only can they take it – they want to see it! They want to see the real you.
Your work in the world is an act of love.
It's the way you manifest your love in the time you spend at work, which is the most time we spend doing anything on a given work day. With that in mind, would not you rather express love from who you really are, and not from some adopted work persona?
I know I would.
My own journey with authenticity has felt like a winding and sometimes arduous one. When I started working, lo these many years ago, work personas were highly valued. Especially in my corporate job. Being yourself was considered wildly anarchistic, and few managed it successfully.
Besides, when I did try being myself, I was slapped down more than once by a manager. It's a challenge to keep getting back up and trying again to be yourself in that environment.
One of the beautiful aspects of being an entrepreneur is that there is no one to say, you can not be yourself. In fact, we all welcome it! We all crave it for ourselves.
When you are yourself, you not only feel the freedom of self-expression, you touch people in a deeper way. You connect with our humanity.
That's powerful stuff in human terms. And it's powerful in business too.
In the spirit of not adding to your get-to-do list, I'm not going to put another list of how-to's or to-do's here about authenticity. I'm just going to share some thoughts with you about what I've observed in the authentic (and most successful) business people out there:
1. Stop worrying about what everybody else thinks .
What stops many of us from being real is worry about what other people will think if we are just ourselves. That we'll be judged. That we'll even be rejected. It seems less painful to be rejected when it's your persona and not you that's getting the cold shoulder. It's not easy to just shut that worry off. What authentic and successful biz people do is express themselves anyway. That could be you!
2. Embrace standing out.
You know that guy in the terrible furniture commercial wearing a zebra costume who looks like he's having the time of his life? We laugh. Or cringe. And we remember him. I'm not saying you need to dress up like a zoo animal. What I am suggesting is that doing something that feels foolish and fun can help you stand out. We worry so much about being embarrassed. What if we focus instead on how much fun we could be having?
3. Love yourself.
Oh yeah. This is a big one. HUGE. All that stuff I said in the first two points? Pretty much not a problem when you love yourself. You're a beautiful amazing being. Be as good a friend to yourself as you would to someone you love.
How cool would it be to have someone in your life who lets the crapola fall away and is just themselves? You can be that person for your clients, your team, anyone who comes into contact with you. It's inspiring. It's loving.
4. Do what you promise.
Making a lot of promises that you do not keep is one of the quickest ways to be perceived as inauthentic. People need to be able to trust what you say. That's the start of any business relationship. From that foundation, buying decisions are made. Without it, there's no business.
5. Have fun.
Business is hard work, right? How much fun are we allowed to have, exactly? Here's some news: as much as you want! What if one of your criteria for whether a project goes ahead is, overall, is it fun?
It's kind of cool when truths about business are also truths about life, is not it?
I welcome your authenticity. I'm with you in showing us who you are. We're all cheering you on!