Authenticity is a crucial, fundamental way-of-being required to be powerful and effective in business and life, and to lead. Authenticity is elemental to being free.
The experience of being authentic can feel threatening—it opens us up to vulnerability. Among its synonyms are honest, genuine, real, and true. Among its antonyms are fake, false, unreal, and phony. Why does it seem at times so counterintuitive, so counter-impulse, even unnatural, to be authentic, to be honest?
What drives inauthenticity and dishonesty is fear in its various forms, like fear of looking like a fool or the fear of appearing weak or not loyal or not knowing something. Mostly, underneath our fear about how others will react is our own concern/fear/view of ourselves, and may have nothing to do with others’ perception of us.
It takes courage to be honest, to be real in speech and in action. It requires putting aside our approval-seeking and bending ourselves to fit what we think others want to see and hear.
Being authentic includes authenticity in listening—that is, to hear what another says, without resisting it, without changing it to match our point of view—and to fully hear what is said exactly as the speaker says it, as the speaker intends it, without modifying it in any way. Authentically listening to another, although subtle, has enormous beneficial impact on other people.
Although authenticity in being, action, and listening is simple, it is in fact a bold action that makes ourselves and others more real, empowering us and them. It is elemental to freedom because you have nothing to hide.
Difference-making action always begins by dealing with what is real, with saying it the way it is; so authenticity is required right from the start.