Posted by Todd Smith
Reflect on the experience of meeting someone for the first time and feeling an immediate connection. What was it about this person that you found attractive?
Think of a salesperson you really liked. Did this person try to impress you or was he or she a sincere, quality person who took the time to get to know you and understand your needs?
My guess is that in both situations, the person you connected with was being genuine or authentic.
The Face of Authenticity
Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite outside pressures. It’s living with integrity. Being authentic means you are being faithful to internal values rather than external ideas from the world. When you put on a mask to please others, you are being false to yourself.
Nathaniel Hawthorne warns us about this: “No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.”
To help us clearly understand the concept of authenticity, let’s explore some of the adjectives and attributes used to describe an authentic man or woman: sincere, genuine, believable, vulnerable, factual, reliable, transparent, loving, caring, real, truthful, and faithful.
Lack of Authenticity
Today, more than at anytime during my lifetime, people can sense when someone is not being authentic. One of the primary reasons is because people today are less trusting. Not only are we less trusting as a society, we are more discerning as individuals because of our accumulated negative experiences. Our internal integrity meter, that tells us if someone is being fake or real, is very sensitive.
Over the last three years, most of us have had our teeth kicked in. Because of Wall Street’s greed and our government’s lack of oversight, our home values have plummeted, our investment portfolios have tanked, and millions of people have lost their jobs.
This has given all of us a greater sense of who can and who cannot be trusted. We immediately perceive when people are focused on their best interests and not ours. We discern when someone is trying to pull something over our eyes with their sales pitch. Bottom line—we can tell when someone is not being real or authentic with us.
What Authenticity Is Not
Being authentic is not akin to “that’s just who I am.” It is not a free pass to interrupt people, demand your own way, or disregard the use of discretion because that’s how you really are deep down inside. It does not mean you can dress like a bum, tell people how you really feel about them or not be friendly over the phone because you are just being you.
If anything, your desire to be authentic should be all the more reason to rid yourself of the behaviors that others would find unattractive or offensive and instead work towards becoming the best you can be.
Rewards of Authenticity
Being authentic can be empowering. You will know that you are living a life with purpose, using your talents and skills productively, and doing it peacefully and harmoniously while contributing to the lives of those around you.
To take full advantage of this movement towards authenticity, we must focus on growing and developing ourselves. We need to become the type of people who attract success into our lives—not people who try to fake our way to the top.
When it comes to building trust and connecting with others, nothing is more persuasive and powerful than just being real. I’m convinced that the people who work the hardest on growing themselves will be those who have the advantage in the years to come.
I want to challenge you to put down your shield and start trying to connect on a deeper level with people. Show a genuine interest in people and the things that are important to them by listening and asking questions. Smile more, love more, encourage more, and show your appreciation to those who do things for you.
I also want to encourage you to be true to yourself. Be happy with who you are—wrinkles and all. Feeling comfortable in one’s skin and being true to one’s self is one of the most beautiful traits one can possess.
Lastly, be happy with what you have. Stop trying “to keep up with the Joneses” or the people at the country club; start being happy with who you are and what you offer the world.
One of the most famous literary quotations speaks to authenticity:
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare in Hamlet.
People who are authentic connect faster, are more trusted, and build deeper relationships than those who are superficial.
Achievement, Attitude, Building Rapport, Career, Character, Communication, Fulfillment, In-person Communication, Leadership, Likability, Personal Brand, Relationships, Respect, Sales, Things you were never taught
Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.
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