Why You Should Stop Trying To BE Authentic
What does authenticity look like?
To some, it's eating ten donut holes in less than 5 minutes at a weekly management meeting. For others, it's wearing pajama pants to the grocery store on a Sunday. For a local grocer, it means keeping business small in order to better serve its customers.
Authenticity makes us feel connected with those who share our values and belief systems. They remind us of who we are and that we belong. As humans, we crave authenticity.
Unfortunately, inauthenticity has replaced authenticity.
The Internet has made it so easy for people to hide. Our world is bombarded with stories of privileged housewives bragging about their seemingly perfect lives, politicians making promises they don't intend to keep, celebrities claiming to only eat kale and organic fish, and businesses who pretend to care about their customers in order to get their money.
"You might recognize inauthenticity as a kind of pretending. It comes along with feelings of fraudulence, deception, self-consciousness, and the feeling that you need to keep up appearances" (The Art of Charm).
Because most customer relationships begin and live online, it's harder for consumers to see what a business is really about. Does their fancy website or commercial represent who they really are, or is it just a mask?
Why be something you're not? Is it really worth all the trouble? I agree with John Lennon. "Being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it'll always get you the right ones."
You may not appeal to every customer on the planet, but you'll attract the right ones, those who believe what you believe, trust what you say, and want to stick with you for the long haul.
So, how do you become more authentic, so consumers know who they can trust?
Jordan Harbinger, from The Art Of Charm, says it perfectly,
"If you're trying to be authentic, you're not being authentic.... If we define authenticity as simply being your true self, then we really shouldn’t have to look for it in the first place. If we’re looking for it, then we’ve already lost it. And that is what we can call the paradox of authenticity."
Don't try to become authentic. Just stop being inauthentic. Drop the fascade and let people see what you're really about. Those that care will follow, those that don't, won't. Staying true to your values and beliefs is being authentic.
It may not always be the popular choice, but it's the right choice. For more on this topic, you can check out "Becoming A more Authentic Leader" from HBR. Great supplemental read!