The word authenticity has taken on new meaning in the celebrity obsessed world we live in. Once meaning a deep ingrained sense of self, it has turned into a colloquialism as people strive to convince others they are “real.”
The problem is, if you have to convince someone you are real, then you’re probably not acting from your true self in any case, and that is hardly an authentic foundation to start from.
Ayn Rand once wrote, “Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.” In our world, we face choices every day. At work, we are expected to conform to the culture of the workplace. In our relationships, we often have to adapt to the personality and values of our significant others. We face peer pressure from our friends, and society seems to demand that we behave a certain way or dress in certain fashions to belong or to be popular.
The problem is every one of us has our own personality, our own foundation of ourselves that keeps us grounded and genuine. When we act in discordance with that foundation, we are enacting a persona and we fail to live up to the person inside. While we will certainly always have moments where that is necessary, the more we do it the further we move from our true selves. This results in an increasing inability to generate our own happiness in life.
The choice we face then is to know when to act a persona and when to act as a person. We will never completely escape the need to conform to some degree to others’ designs, but the more you can inject your own truth into your interactions, the happier you will be. When you are in the board room, promote healthy conflict if you disagree. In your personal life, ensure that your wishes are included in the things you do, and be honest about how you feel about the things that make you happy as well as the things that frustrate you. In all things revert to what’s inside of you, not what is expected of you by conventional wisdom.
We all have choices to make. By choosing yourself and your own true meaning, you will increase the number of followers you have, as their trust of you will grow. By choosing yourself, you will reduce the stress of having to play out someone else’s script every day, leading to more genuine fulfillment.
Authenticity is the foundational principle of Leadership Zen. Start living your own life today.