Authenticity is something so natural yet so difficult. On the surface, it should be easy to be natural and spontaneous, to be yourself. However, most people struggle with being authentic.
There are primarily three reasons for this:
- You have been conditioned since childhood—by parents, teachers and peers—so you have learned to comply instead of learning to be yourself.
- You are fearful—you feel within that you are not good enough; therefore, if you become authentic, people will see your faults.
- You have a scarcity mentality—you feel that if you are authentic, people will know everything about you and take advantage of you.
If you let go of these inhibitions, you will bloom like a flower, shine like a star and fly like a bird—so naturally and effortlessly. Have you ever seen a flower struggle to bloom, a star struggle to shine or a bird struggle to fly? Of course not! They don't have inhibitions that stop them from sharing their gifts.
When you come from a scarcity mentality, you worry about someone stealing your idea, money or material. You look at people as dishonest and selfish. This behaviour comes from not trusting, not giving and not being authentic.
You can change this paradigm by becoming more trusting, by giving people the benefit of doubt and the best possible interpretation. In every situation, trust the fairness of the universe and practise the power of giving in deed, action and reflection. People who really connect with others and make a significant difference are the ones who are authentic—natural, poised, spontaneous. They are comfortable in their own skin and are not worried about their limitations. Do not mistake this for not working on improving your shortcomings...far from it. However, these people come from a position of abundance and strength, not weakness. They come from a place of love, not fear. They are able to leave their past conditioning behind and move forward with grace and confidence.
Kumar Mangalam Birla, who took over the helm of the Aditya Birla Group at the tender age of 28 after his father passed away at a young age, was asked in a TV interview if he would want his children to take over from him. His reply was that he wanted his children to follow their heart and their passion, wherever that leads. This is despite the fact the group’s annual sales are US$30 billion and the children would have a great start in life if they joined the family business.
I failed all of my exams in Grade 12—got the worst possible results you can get. In A levels, or higher grades, I managed to get two E’s—the worst pass you can get. However, I did pretty well in accounting, ending up getting three professional accounting degrees and becoming a senior partner in an accounting firm. Today I don’t touch accounting, and I am far happier at what I do because it is authentic, it is me—even though it took me 43 years to figure out what that was! I found this gift of mine while volunteering my time working with Afghan refugees. I was lousy at science in school, good at accounting, but my true genius only came to light when I began to speak and write.
Imitating is limiting
If you try to imitate others, you lose your magic. Each one of us is a miracle born to shine our light and inspire others to shine their light. When you go to work, do you come alive? Most people don’t.
Is there some aspect of your work that makes you feel vibrant and happy? Most people do have some aspects of their work that makes them come alive. However, they are unaware of what it is because they see things but, as Stephen Covey would say, they do not observe.
By observing what makes you come alive, you will do more of these tasks, therefore becoming more energetic and productive. If you have any leadership position, you will be able to help others in your team observe what excites them. This way, they can focus on what they are best at doing, creating a productive and synergistic team.
It is never easy, however, and there will be a stack of things that make no one come alive but still need to be dealt with. If you and your co-workers or employees are generally excited about what they are doing, you create a team, environment and company with a wonderful, creative atmosphere. Those small, mundane details then become part of the cycle of the larger vision.
I come alive when I get to speak to an excited audience, and when I get to write every day. How about you?
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