Authentic is defined by Dictionary.com as:
- not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.
- having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified: an authentic document of the Middle Ages; an authentic work of the old master.
- entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy: an authentic report on poverty in Africa.
- Law. executed with all due formalities: an authentic deed.
- (of a church mode) having a range extending from the final to the octave above. Compare plagal.
- (of a cadence) consisting of a dominant harmony followed by a tonic.
- Obsolete. authoritative.
As Thursday came to an end and I reflected on the events of the week, it was hard to ignore that each day’s speaker echoed one consistent message, be authentic. The theme was unavoidable. From a brand management expert to Wall Street to social media, being authentic was an essential key to success and its absence, a recipe for disaster.
The week started out on Monday with Lesley Everett an International Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach on personal branding. Lesley pointed out that our reputations are like pearls in an oyster formed layer by layer. Our motivators and strengths are the core of who we are. Her first rule is “Who You Really Are – A strong Personal Brand is authentic.” She reminded us that when the veneer is unauthentic it is exhausting to maintain.
Tuesday I caught Suzie Orman on Oprah and boy was she mad about the lies that Wall Street and Main Street were living. She fumed at the way people constantly live beyond their means and how companies could misinform their clients. She insisted that we stop with the deceit and take immediate corrective measures to ensure our financial lives are in greater alignment with our values (translation: authentic). Oprah even asked “Does anyone remember layaway?” When was last time you heard a store offer that???
By mid week, I was jumping from a tech conference to an LMA-LA meeting. Authentic made an appearance at both events. Chris Brogan my favorite person on Twitter was speaking about Social Media and Energizing Communities. He extolled the virtues of crowds gathering and sharing, noting that “everyone wants to be a Superstar but they are scared of honest feedback. A personal story is important when people buy from people.” I interpreted this to mean authenticity because as he further pointed out “communities aren’t targets and demographics, they are – sharing, emotional, reachable, and appreciative.” Deception has no place in a community that aims to thrive. After his presentations, a few of us grabbed a soda and continued the conversation regularly coming back to how social networking tells more of our story and requires us to be sincere.
Next, I dashed off to hear Paul Burton speak about the need for QuietSpacing to conquer the Inbox. He pointed out most are not project or task oriented but rather reactive when dealing with the Inbox. He refocused the discussion on the need to get real about what needs doing. “Where is the project at? When do I need to think about it?” We often believe that something is important when a straightforward analysis would prove otherwise. Representational subject lines paint a better picture than recycled headlines. His point was to get out of the Inbox and over to the Calendar and drive your schedule. Basically be more authentic with your approach and allocation of time.
Thursday morning I was on a call with Zale Tabakman and Marguerite Mcleod-Fleming about Using LinkedIn to Generate Qualified Leads. They encouraged people to admit openly that they mined information from LinkedIn and tie it into the approach. Don’t position yourself as a stalker. Share with the audience the process of how you came to know so much. Hello authenticity! Later that day I checked out The Cooler. According to Busy Little Bee authentic was essentially missing from the equation at Heller Ehrman. Goodbye inaccuracy and half-truths! The self-proclaimed Cruise Director is setting the record straight and navigating some very murky waters.
This week drove home the point that you might be able to run from being authentic but you can’t hide and in the end, you’re just exhausted. Taking a sincere look in the mirror and admitting that something is broken or false is not for the weak. Even fewer make it to the next level of action. The heart of being authentic is being truthful and even smart with your resources. In a time where mistakes instantly become viral, it is imperative that we take stock of who we are and who we want to be, so that we may put our thoughts, actions and lives in alignment with our authentic selves.
Why is living a reality so hard and uncomfortable? When you realize that you are unauthentic in your personal or professional lives, how do you respond?