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authenticity (noun) the quality of being real or true

Recently I gave a presentation to some lovely people that involved some talk about authenticity. Granted, it was in the context of marketing, but the message was/is, in my view, still very important. In the beginning steps of learning more about myself, both my personal and professional selves, I found that I was often being called on to be someone I really wasn’t. Always eager to please (people pleaser, here!), I worked harder than ever to be the person I was “meant” to be. But, the question I never asked myself was “who says I have to be that person” and “why that person and not the person next to them”. Ultimately, I found myself questioning why…. and, more specifically, why I wasn’t asking myself who I was and who I should be… It was this question that made me think deeper and more meaningfully about who I really was, deep down, and intentionally not taking into account anyone’s views of who I should be. This was a difficult process because it required me to think about and engage with comments from others about me.. the good, bad and the ugly. Whilst difficult….

I found this immensely empowering.

I found myself learning more about myself and, through that, found more confidence and pride in that person. Something that I had really struggled to find before. Don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of moments, but some of those moments have just become more enlightened and, perhaps, softened by a self-awareness. What I found in my professional world was that people responded much better to this person I truly was. My conversations flowed better and I didn’t feel as awkward trying to be this other person. I was just being myself. To me it demonstrates the invaluable nature of authenticity. How much it can impact on your daily experience, both professionally and personally and how darn empowering it can be. Through this, I have found a new approach to what I do and how I do it and a new type of confidence. If you feel a bit out of step and awkward, perhaps give some thought and ask yourself are you being your true self, and if not, why not? What have you got to lose?

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash with grateful thanks.

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The best version of yourself

I love anecdotes, quotes and old sayings.

I also like bright things that spark light and happiness.

We’re in the business of people. People are our business. So, it is a natural progression that human qualities and attributes are at the heart of what we do, day in day out, but also at the heart of success (whatever your definition of success may be).

There are a few things that I try to live by that I think make a big difference to my happiness in my work life and my life life too.

  • Kindness above all: there is no reason or excuse for being unkind.
  • Perspective is a wonderful thing: stopping for a moment and thinking about an issue from someone else’s perspective can be insightful, moving and even life changing.
  • A smile is exceptionally powerful: ever thought of how much your smile can impact another. I once went into the Supreme Court of Queensland and through the security scanner thingy majig. I smiled at the security guard as he greeted me (a big, meaningful, toothy smile). He smiled back (a big, meaningful, toothy smile), in return. I then overheard him as I walked away (after being suitably scanned) remarking to his colleague how I had smiled at him and acknowledged him and how rare that is and how wonderful it was. It made me happy and sad. Happy because I made someone happy, but also a little sad that it was such a rare experience for the gentleman. It was that moment that made me reason how powerful a simple smile can be.
  • If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all: old-school, yes. But valid.
  • You never know someone’s internal/personal battle: I try to remind myself of this when I’m faced with someone difficult. While I feel there is no excuse for being unkind, rude, disrespectful etc, there could possibly be an explanation. Either way, we don’t know what kind of battle someone is fighting inside or personally. Nor is it our business. It is our business, however, to forgive, accept and move forward.
  • There is always a silver-lining: it may sound unbelievable, but I do believe this. Even in the most horrid of situations or experiences, I try to remember this. I remind myself that while the silver-lining is probably covered in oil and sludge in the back corner of an abandoned 1920s mechanic’s shop, but it is still there. Perhaps it’s maturity, education or insight that we gain. Eventually it will come to light. Sometimes we might just have to be patient.
  • The glass can always be half-full: kind of the same as the silver-lining coupled with a little bit of “perspective”.
  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have: this is not a reference to the clothes on your back, but your mentality. Job does not define who you are and what you can achieve in that job.

It can be hard sometimes, certainly. But,  it’s worth a shot. Perhaps you can try it out? For a whole week, smile big and toothy and genuinely at your colleagues when you greet them. Even try smiling big, toothy and genuinely at the service station attendant. Sometimes you will get the not-so-happy responder, however, you might be surprised at other responses.  Go on, give it a go. What do you have to lose?

Be the spark in someone’s day.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget they way you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash with grateful thanks.