When I sat down to write my first blog post, there was no doubt in my mind what I wanted to talk about. Authenticity. It’s a word that most people generally understand. It’s a word that is becoming more and more important to up-and-coming generations. And it just happens to be my favorite life coaching word (though some coaches may simply label it as “coaching jargon,” but I would disagree!).
While I plan on writing plenty of posts in the future on this impactful and meaningful word, I’d like to take a moment to discuss why it matters to us. Why it matters to me. And why it matters to you.
1. Authenticity matters because it represents who we really are, not who we try to be.
“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.” – Meredith Monk
The dictionary definition of authenticity is “genuine, real, not false or copied.” It speaks to an element inside us that maybe even we don’t know exists. It’s that part of us that requires no preparation, no meaningful effort, no manufactured exterior. It’s simply us, plain and simple us. While we’re often afraid to show “us” to others (another blog post right there), it is there for us to acknowledge about ourselves, and for others to see, if we let them.
2. Authenticity matters because it inspires trust.
When I was in grad school, one of my leadership class professors sat us down and told us to forget everything we knew about how to best manage others, how to give great speeches, about professionalism in the workplace – doesn’t matter, forget it. What truly matters is if people believe you. It’s all about your credibility.
Think about it – when was the last time you heard a politician give a speech? There’s a good chance that you didn’t give it a lot of thought afterwards, and I’m willing to bet that it had a little something to do with trust. With believing the words that came out of their mouth. Authenticity leads to trust (among other things), and you can be the best speaker, the best performer, and the best conversationalist in the world, but you’ll never be a person that others truly respect without showing a little of your authentic self. Equation-wise, when evaluating someone’s credibility, it would go a little something like this:
First Impressions -> Understanding -> Respect -> Trust -> Credibility -> Authentic Individual
3. Authenticity matters because it’s difficult, risky, and rare.
“Hard to be soft, tough to be tender.” – Help I’m Alive, by Metric
You may be thinking to yourself, sure, authenticity is great and all, but I live in the REAL world. If I’m authentic, others will chew me up and spit me out. Are you kidding me John, my boss would kill me if they found out what I really thought about them!
Okay, message received. But, authenticity isn’t about sharing your deepest darkest secrets with every stranger that passes by (that would be more than a little creepy). Authenticity is about giving those people around you whom you care for more than just a little peek at who you really are. I suppose you do have to ask yourself, does the person in front of me deserve to see my authentic self? And you know, even if they don’t, you may want to give it a go anyways – you’ll often be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Do you value authenticity in others? When and how do you determine when being authentic is appropriate? Is there ever a time authenticity doesn’t matter? Let me know below and join the discussion!