Authenticity. It’s become quite the buzzword. I remember reading somewhere that Sheryl Sandberg believes that with the advent of Facebook the web became much more authentic as people were not as prone to hiding behind fictitious online personas, as in Second Life.
I think there is a lot of truth to it. Having attended a marketing conference that ended just last night, I noticed a subtle trend in the imagery that is being used nowadays in slides during presentations by some of the world’s most prominent speakers. The images are huge, words reduced to quote size at most and the pictures are organic and far from what a graphic designer from three years ago would consider publishing-worthy. Yes even the images are becoming authentic.
What does being authentic mean to you, whoever you are?
I find that in this fast pace world revolving at a breakneck speed, hiding behind a made up persona, to put it bluntly, is a tremendous waste of talent, time and energy. How do we come out and let the world see our bare-bottom selves?
I Am to Blame
Rewind to late 90s and early 2000s when I affiliated myself very closely with a team of people who preferred to operate “under the radar.” I assisted them with all sorts of projects but always had to be careful about what I communicated to the larger world. In hindsight, it slowed us down and created a layer of barriers that existed between our customers and us
“I don’t have the solution you are looking for yet. But we will take your comments and come back to you once we do.” Sounds so much better than trying to sell peaches to someone who wants pears. Even a simple “I don’t know” is better than scrambling for an answer that’s half-baked or not genuine. Let’s get real. That includes me too.
When I picked up the pen almost five years ago to write my first novel, I became struck by my own lack on transparency on the page. Well, all right, it was all fiction but even fiction must come from an authentic place. Readers see through that, the story lacks a buy-in; the scenes are not as genuine as they could be, not as believable. Clients and readers see through the smoke and mirrors quickly, it is so much better and so much fresher to just tell the truth and be transparent. As I write, I always draw from experience and even if making things up, I feel what it’s like to be there fully.
I could go on and on here but for the sake of page space and your time, below are few steps I’ve implemented in my own life that are helping me become more transparent.
- Write it down. Sometimes I don’t say things out of habit or sugarcoat them out of fear that the flawed truth will be less than its flawless version. When I write it down, what used to be scary looses that edge and becomes much easier to qualify as either share-worthy or trash-able.
- Listen. I love being in the presence of authentic, transparent people. It was really thanks to them that I began to open up more and strive to present a more authentic, unrefined and raw in-the-moment version of myself. They are FRESH!
- Ditch perfectionism. Christiane Northrup, M.D. wrote in one of her fabulous books that perfectionism is the compulsive need for controlled order of outside circumstances striving to cover up the inner chaos. I can so relate. But if I stay in that zone, there will be an endless amount of stuff to do detracting me from my creative work. The dishes keep piling to my chagrin and there is always a load of laundry that could be done, the next new workout to try before I’m “ready” to sit down and create my new fantasyland or write something meaningful (hopefully!) to share with the world. Why not just do it? The dirty dishes are not going anywhere and a raw, unedited piece of writing sometimes sounds better than a shiny polished paragraph that is so smooth, it looses meaning altogether.
- Trust yourself. You are where you are because of the decisions you’ve made in the past. On extreme side of the spectrum, you are either yet to fully open and thrive or you’re already there because you know who you are, what you want and how to ask for it. In either case, no one but you knows best for you, so listen to that internal feeling and follow it best you can.
Curious to know what you think. Would love to know what you do to make yourself be more authentic.