Authenticity: According to the Webster dictionary, it means to be ‘real or genuine; not false or copied; it is true and accurate.
I particularly love this definition by my ten-year old son. He says it is ‘Being myself in everything I do and everywhere I go!” 🙂
Faking it: The Miriam Webster online dictionary explains this as “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent); without regards to facts or truths; to engage in pretence.
My 13-year-old thinks this means ‘to live your life wearing a mask, doing something that’s not real and at the end, you still don’t get the full satisfaction.’ Kids are definitely smarter than we ever give them credit for!
A few days ago, I was listening to a webinar and the topic was: ‘Finding your purpose in your authentic self.’ The speaker had great content and had all 45 people on the call engaged for the first 30 minutes or so. The moment she started talking about building a successful career or business based on your purpose, she said the one line that shifted the whole webinar (and not in a positive way). The seemingly innocuous line: ‘Fake it until you make it!’
It was funny to see how people started typing in questions regarding this single phrase. Some of the very insightful questions asked were:
1. What does it mean to fake it till you make it? (I particularly like this question because it clearly stumped the speaker for some seconds!)
2. Why do we have to fake it when we’re really all about being real and truthful especially if we’re selling professional services and not commodities?
3. Why can’t we just simply be ourselves? Is it not deceitful to portray yourself as what you are not?
It was very interesting to hear her responses and to observe, energetically, how quickly the excellent rapport she’d built crumbled.
Now I’m pretty sure the speaker really meant differently because after the webinar, I’d followed up with her and sent an email. And based on our interesting correspondence I understand now that to her it was just a seemingly harmless cliché or slogan that most coaches and business trainers had espoused and as she explained, she had used it in the context of perception and how people perceive you.
That is, the idea that you have to ‘claim’ or pretend to be successful in order to be seen as successful. In other words, you have to sound, look and act successful, to be perceived as a true success story, especially in today’s world of unimaginable competition and self-promotion.
My question to her was do we really have to fake it till we make it? And doesn’t the use of the phrase ‘faking it’ in the same breath as ‘authenticity’ seem out-of-place? Perhaps, one of the many reasons why entrepreneurs (in particular, professionals) struggle with translating their expertise into success, may be because they simply missed the important point that we now live in a value-based, empathy-driven economy. A lot of the old practices and ideas on how people do business have evolved.
I’ve always been raised with the notion that people can smell and sense crap and B.S from a mile away. (Thanks to being blessed with a grandmother and mother-in-law who both gave it to you straight and could not stand or abide fakes). In today’s world, any hint of in-congruent messaging will cost you a sale and/or a loyal client relationship. And it is also very critical in today’s inter-connected world of real life and cyber life.
Ask any high profile celebrity, CEO or business owner, who’s lost droves of fans and/or customers because they put their foot in their mouth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. The principle of authenticity is particularly necessary in professional services where no tangible products are being offered. YOU become the primary product, and the services you offer are secondary. The marketplace today is filled with discerning, knowledgeable and savvy consumers.
Why not embrace who you are and share the different stages you’re on in your entrepreneurial journey. In a nutshell, I tend to believe that authenticity does not require you to ‘fake it’ in anyway.
Far from it, rather, authenticity means that you allow yourself to be vulnerable and in that openness of spirit, you are empowered and can empower your clients. This level of truth allows you to connect meaningfully and at a deep level with people.
The basis of real rapport is TRUST. How then can trust exist if it is based on a pseudo lie? In the end, people tend to buy from people they both trust and like, period! Practicing the gift of authenticity at work and play will lead you to a life 0f seamless success.
Why then do we have to ‘fake it? Why don’t we just simply be and bask in the knowingness that all we are is really enough and should we need to be more, we can be more by taking action. The idea that life is a struggle to impress or pretend to others that we are more than we are, pre-supposes that we believe are less.
The danger with ‘faking it until you make it’, is that sometimes, people get caught up in the ‘story’ of the act and they become so intensely associated with it. They believe it and take it as real and consequently spend all their resources perfecting the ‘faking it’ act and in the process, many opportunities for true and sustainable success elude them.
Everything is energy. There is a lot of energy required to ‘fake it’. And what if instead of faking it till you make it, you simply channeled all your energy and focused on actually making it so you do not have to fake it?
Furthermore, you can choose to actually live it now as you work towards making it. This means that you are consciously doing symbolic gestures and taking action steps that reflect who you want to become and/or mimic the level of success you want to achieve.
In this way, the individual is in a dissociated state and the unconscious mind can then distinguish what is real and what is not. The universe has a sense of humour. It will only open up and give you both what you have room for and more of what you already have. Begin to pay more attention to what you are putting out there, (consciously or unconsciously). Your thoughts, words and actions are powerful.
In this new year (2014), you are enjoined to embrace the sacred gift of authenticity. Embrace, communicate and share what is true, real and accurately reflects your core.
“Until you FINALLY begin to See, Hear, Feel, Speak and Live your truth, you’ll be trapped in the painful bondage of merely manifesting lies and existing blindly. Your TRUTH is the primary reason why you exist! Find it and embrace it. It is already in you. All fear, anger, hatred, tiredness, shame, guilt…fade and melt away in the face of your truth. It fires you up. It gives you the strength to stand, the courage to act and boldness to speak. May 2014 be a year of uncommon boldness and courage as you finally BE who you’ve always wanted to become. Each day, do that one thing you most NEED to do and yet are most inclined to least WANT to do. And soon what you need and want will integrate into the same. Seamless success happens when you are fully congruent and exchange the inherent value of who you are into what you do!” #UNLockingYourHeArtofLeadership
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The preceding is a guest post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Strategic Interventionist, Wealth Management Consultant & Leadership-Coach at Whole Woman Network. Juliet is the author of the upcoming book: ‘UN-Locking Your HeArt of Leadership.” She is an avid Life Connoisseur and a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Leadership Training, Investment & Financial Literacy for women. Her mission is simply to engage, educate and empower women (and men), regardless of their levels of income or background, to return to ‘wholeness’ and live Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier Lives using Faith-based, Scientific and Universal (Common-Sense) principles! She shares her daily reflective posts on: www.facebook.com/wholewomannetwork. Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc, @julietumeinc