The Power of Authenticity

power authenticityThere are a lot of things in life that will gladly wield power over you – if you let them. Money. Expectations. Fear. The weather. Snarky people. But, there are certain things within your own power that – if you embrace them – will give you the upper hand in life and leadership.

One of them is Authenticity.

Here are a few reasons why choosing authenticity is such a powerful decision:

1. People trust what’s real. We’re all wary of – or repulsed by – people who don’t appear real. The salesperson filled with pat answers. The politician with the plastic smile. The CEO that says everything’s fine when it clearly isn’t. Ugh. What we really want is a raw, unpolished, honest human being–someone willing to be honest with us and with themselves. Authenticity is the essential ingredient to engendering trust in others.

2. It’s more efficient. Time and energy are two of our most precious resources. Trying to keep up appearances, maintain your reputation, and seem like you’re someone or something you’re not takes up an awful lot of time and energy. Accepting, embracing, and growing who you really are frees you up to invest your time and energy in more important things.

3. It makes you valuable. No one else has lived your life or sees the world from your personal perspecitve. That, coupled with your specific set of traits, talents, and skills, is what makes you truly unique – and truly valuable. When you fail to step up to the line of who you are, you end up cheating yourself, your followers, and your community.

So how do you seize the power of authenticity? Here are 10 tips for becoming an authentic leader, a post I wrote in response to Michael Hyatt’s 5 Marks of Authentic Leadership.

Who is the most authentic person you know?

19 thoughts on “The Power of Authenticity”

  1. Jeff–so true and a timely reminder. With unemployment high, people begin to feel that they are not enough. It’s tempting to take on a persona that isn’t authentic.

    To give a very personal example, I’m 61. I work with teens and young adults. We get along just great. I don’t try to be cool, but most young people catch on quickly that I care passionately about their future success. By being authentic, we connect and they become open to hearing what I have to say.

    As the great bluesman Boz Scaggs wrote, “Since you can be anyone you want to be, why you want to be someone else?”

  2. Perfect. What a great example, Carol. I’ve worked quite a bit with teenagers myself and I don’t think there’s any age group that has less tolerance for phoniness!

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Authenticity. So true.

    My job requires me to give free legal advice everyday and lectures every now and then. I am learning to put away my ego and consult my books or my co-workers when I am not sure about a legal issue. Contrary to what I feared, clients don’t think that I am dumb, instead they appreciate that I am careful to give them an honest assessment of their problems. Also, I think that when we accept what we are not, it makes us aware of what else we can become.

    I am glad you got Freshly Pressed. I have read some of your posts and will be back to read more.

  4. And if this “secret power” would point in another direction than “being more efficient to a system expecting efficiency”?
    Maybe even towards the need for a change of society who is not connected with a marketing “plus value”.
    Authenticity as BEING instead of “POWER”.

    1. I hate to say it, but I feel as if you are missing the point of this post. I don’t think he is suggesting that we use authenticity as a tool to manipulate or exert power over another human being. I think he is speaking of the gift of honest communication. Unfortunately, for most people today authenticity does not come naturally. We grow up building walls, creating defenses and separating ourselves from others as a form of self-preservation. We strive toward strength and success, not vulnerability. I think it is our vulnerability that allows us to really connect with people. Authenticity is not a weapon to wield, but a gift to give. I believe that is Geoff’s point.

    2. antiphonsgarden, I’m not sure we’re in disagreement here; it might just be a matter of semantics. I agree that authenticity is “BEING” as you put it. All I’m saying is that there are consequences to BEING authentic, namely that people trust you, you save energy, and you become more valuable to others.

  5. Thank you for helping me to see your view on it more clear, my “bad” English might limit my comprehension sometimes. But as European (even worse “French”), I am very doubtful about the short cuts I often observe in the USAmericain “way of thinking” over jumping deeper reflection to please a certain mercantile “effectiveness” of human attributes to end in a in my view ,disastrous “positivism” of the “you can do it if you want” neglecting all kind of impacting socio psychological parameters in one move. Not to forget few thousand years of questioning introspection.
    Authenticity, I agree full hearty is a factor of a better communication BUT NOT ONLY THAT.It might lead one further than primary society appreciation.Example: The self truth authenticity requires, might lead to be in opposition to a mainstream “way of thinking”, temporary solitude and societal disgrace too (Example: my mother fought in the Resistance during the Vichy government),.
    The slippery slide into “be good and heaven blooms”still scars me, as it would imply the opposite: “if you are successful, you are acting right”. I guess, you might now understand my Diogenes fish in front of the Athenian audience.

  6. Sarah…”We”?

    I don’t think that authenticity is vulnerability.Quite the opposite.
    I think that those acting unauthentic are far more subjected to consider the self as “weak” at the start.

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