To be authentic is literally to be your own author – to discover your own nature energies and desires, and then to find your own way of acting on them.
~Warren G. Bennis
To be authentic is to act in alignment with who you are. To be authentic is to feel right about what you say and do. To be authentic is to be real. Being authentic involves being in tune with what’s happening inside of you. Webster defines authenticity as “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”There is no fixed ‘authentic’ self. We don’t one day realize ‘this is who I am” and then become authentic. We change and evolve over time. Our day-to-day experiences tell us who we are, and when we are present in the moment, we can tune into what feels right. We discover whether we are being true or faking it by how we feel in the moment. When we notice what’s happening in our lives – how we feel and what gives us energy – we gain insights that inform and guide authentic actions, aligned with what we value and want to be creating in our lives.
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
Only you know if you are being authentic. Only you truly know if your actions align with your values. Only you know if how you respond to a situation feels right. Of course, others sense when you are being authentic. There is a power in being courageous enough to show our true selves. Even when someone doesn’t agree with you or like how you behave, often they respect you for your clarity and confidence.
We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
Three ways to open to greater authenticity.
- Explore what gives your life meaning. Clarity about your mission in life can help you live each day with purpose. Clear intentions can guide you toward authentic action.
- Notice your thoughts, feelings, and actions. When do you say yes/no? How often does what others want guide your behavior? Do you feel pressure to fit in or seek others’ approval? Be open to the answers you find, without judging yourself as good or bad.
- Explore what it’s like to let go of others’ expectations and judgments. When others make requests of you, pause to consider whether what they want is what you want. Sure, listen to what they have to say and consider their perspective, but tune into your feelings to guide you.
The body has its own way of knowing, a knowing that has little to do with logic, and much to do with truth, little to do with control, and much to do with acceptance, little to do with division and analysis, and much to do with union.
NOTE: This post first appeared on the IBM Jobs Blog on March 30, 2017.