Authenticity is top of mind more than ever these days.
You can get away with a lot these days (Ferris Bueller) … stumble while giving a speech, lose your train of thought, make mistakes …. but if you’re authentic, you’ll get a hall pass for all of it.
It’s Pretty Easy to Get Faked Out
Years ago I was traveling regularly to Asia, and wanted to buy my wife a Cartier tank watch, a style that was very popular at the time.
I visited a reputable jeweler where most of my partners had been shopping for over 20 years, and found exactly what I was looking for. My wife was ecstatic, and I saved a lot of money over what I would’ve spent in the U.S.
Then Again …
One day, it stopped working. Cartier is a highly reputable brand, so I didn’t hesitate to send it to their New York facility for repair.
Imagine my surprise when several weeks later they returned it with a note that said it was a reproduction.
I not only bought the watch from an established retailer, but I had a beautiful Cartier box, a written certificate of authenticity and a warranty card.
All of it was fake.
You Can Feel that Swift Kick in the Gut
If you seek authenticity for authenticity’s sake you are no longer authentic.~Jean-Paul Sartre
When authenticity is hijacked, we are not only frustrated, but a bit of anger seeps into our emotional cauldron. We all feel like we got a kick in the gut when something we expect to be real … isn’t.
Let’s turn the table on ourselves.
When someone questions our authenticity, do we get a little defensive?
What do you mean I’m not authentic? It’s just me, in all of my infinite glory, so how is it I’m not authentic?
When we recognize someone who is not authentic, aren’t we often amazed that he or she doesn’t recognize what everyone else sees?
How Can You Tell if Others Think You’re Authentic?
If authenticity is readily recognizable in someone else, can we see it in ourselves as clearly?
- Are there minimum standards that assure us of authenticity?
- Can we acquire those characteristics or are we only born with them?
- If we have some of them, can we make conscious improvements?
Honesty Must Be at the Top of the List
If we are examining our own authenticity, honesty had better be at the top of the list.
If you’re not honest, with yourself and others, you have little chance of being perceived as authentic because honesty is at the root of how genuine we appear to others.
While you may be able to get away with the occasional white lie, truth will ultimately prevail and you will be judged accordingly.
Emotional Integrity is a Legitimate Offspring
Emotional integrity is an integral component of honesty, and will flow uninterruptedly when it is genuine.
Yes, tears may be the most powerful weapon in our arsenal, but authenticity covers the entire range of emotions.
Your emotional reactions must be real and reflect your full engagement in that particular moment. People will doubt your authenticity if you’re smiling when others are crying, or mocking when others are teary-eyed.
If your emotions match the moment and remain unguarded across the full range of those emotions, people will recognize your authenticity.
You’ve Also Got to Like Yourself
You’ve also got to like yourself.
Emotional integrity also mean you’re comfortable with yourself. You may have come from humble beginnings … or maybe you were born with a silver spoon in your cradle.
Most importantly, you’re comfortable with your identity, and equally outspoken about your successes and shortcomings. You don’t try to hide your failures and are willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly moments that celebrate your humanity.
Let Your Passion All Hang Out.
You need to be passionate about something … and let it blossom across all of your interactions.
- Be enthusiastic.
- Be outspoken about it.
- Take a position.
Right or wrong, you can’t be indifferent and you must speak up about what’s important to you. Your beliefs must be both important and valuable, and you must be willing to follow and promote that passion without respite or reflection.
Humility Rides Shotgun
Humility needs to be riding shotgun on this ride.
In fact, I don’t think you can be authentic without this quality.
In my e-book, The Cornerstones of Leadership, I wrote that …
“Humility makes it safe for you to admit your mistakes. People don’t expect you to be perfect. Quite the contrary, your willingness to admit your mistakes reflects your humanness, your vulnerability and your similarity to everyone else who makes mistakes every day.”
How Can You Be Sure Your Genuine Nature Always Shows Up?
What can you do to enhance your authenticity?
And by that, I don’t mean how to learn to fake it … but how to let it show itself.
One thing that works is a self-deprecating sense of humor. People will see that you are serious … but don’t take yourself too seriously.
You might also be a little quicker to point to one of your failures or imperfections to help others avoid those mistakes.
It’s Hard to Fake Them Out For Very Long.
If you’re convinced that perception is reality, you may think you can fake it. But, it’s awfully hard work to maintain that facade, and you’re very unlikely to be successful.
In the case of authenticity, reality is what creates the genuine article.
Even if people don’t instantly recognize a fake, you won’t be able to fake them out for very long.
Question: On a Scale of 1-10, how would you rate your Authenticity? What will you do today to raise that rating? You can easily add your comment below, or by visiting our Facebook Page or @Exkalibur on Twitter. I visit them every day and look forward to discussing these ideas and concepts with you.