Do you ever feel you have to be someone else in business compared to your personal life? Do you find yourself being different around certain people or in special situations? What if you could just “be you” all the time?
Being 100% authentic is natural for many people, and for others, it takes a lot of guts, personal practice and persistence. Perhaps authenticity is a key ingredient that separates extroverts and introverts. In my early years, I always felt like an open book and that I had a realistic picture of myself. I felt “real.” However, somewhere along in life after college I closed up. I felt I needed to wear my “professional hat” at work, my “party hat” with friends and my “good boy hat” with my family. It got very confusing, but it made me really look at who I wanted to be both personally and professionally.
After quite a few years of trying to be who I thought I should be, I decided to take a step back and test what it would be like to just be me, including all of my greatness, as well as my quirks. Eventually that test became my way of being. By all means, it was not an overnight decision! It is not as if I just had a task to check-off on my “to do” list. It was a process over the last few years, and probably many more years sub-consciously.
A Deeper Sense
If you are a self-aware person, you are probably in touch with some “truths” about yourself. If you’ve done some personal development work, coach-training, therapy, faith-based education or spiritual training, you probably have a deeper sense of who you are; your purpose, your calling, your mission. In that learning are truths about the real and authentic you, and the power that it can create in your life.
Stepping into entrepreneurship in 2003, I learned ten-fold that being truly authentic is the secret to building a business that works. As I brought authenticity into my speaking and writing, I got more credibility and attention, as it also became easier and more fun for me. I learned that if I dropped my made-up perspective of “professionalism” and formal business behavior and language, and got more real and personal, that my clients and colleagues connected with me more. I am not encouraging the loss of good manners and appropriateness. Instead, find the balance between your authentic self, honoring your true essence, while stepping into and being the businessperson you really want to be.
He Just Wanted to Be Himself
My father passed away in 2009. As I reflected back on his life and our relationship, I realized how I learned the value of authenticity from him. He never held back his thoughts, opinions, criticisms or compliments. He just said it like it was for him. Appropriateness was not always his strength, but you always knew where he stood and what he wanted. It served him well in the fast-moving car business in Chicago for many years. As he aged and mellowed, it also served him well in his personal relationships. He listened well, and then he spoke his truth. He didn’t want to be anyone else but himself. I didn’t appreciate that about him then, but I admire it now.
As we build our brands in business, authenticity is critical to the design. When people get that you are authentic, they instantly connect with you. That’s a guarantee! How many people have you met who felt phony? It’s natural to see and feel the lack of authenticity in some individuals. You’ll probably notice that you don’t connect. You may be intrigued for other reasons, but you probably don’t engage from your heart and may be skeptical about doing business with them. It’s the lack of authenticity.
On the other hand, when you meet someone that is genuine and real, you know it. You feel it! You naturally want to get to know them better, learn more about them; and most likely, you easily trust them. That’s authenticity, which needs to be the major player in your business branding and marketing. People connect with (and do business with) authentic individuals and honest businesses.
No Hype to Conjure Up
If you are consistently authentic across the board from your “beingness” to your branding and marketing, you’ve captured your core essence that will attract your perfect target audience. And the good news here is that coming from this truly authentic place, greatly helps keep your branding and marketing efforts easy. There’s no hype to conjure up and no spin to create. You just get to be you all the time, speaking and marketing from your heart in a very natural way. What could be easier?