Most of us think that being authentic is about being true to what we want and who we are, without regard for the impact it has on others. On the contrary, the authentic self is an intelligence at the core of who we are that is inspired, centered, and connected to those we lead. When we are in this centered place of being we are able to choose behavior that serves the greatest good.
The biggest mistake people make when trying to be authentic is just that: they try. They see these role models of what an "authentic" person is supposed to look like or act like, and they try to emulate that. Authenticity isn't about what things appear to be. It's about allowing things to be what they are. Authenticity is about getting away from hiding, from wearing a mask, from always asking, "How should I act? What should I say? What will people think?" That includes asking, "How should an authentic person act? What would a genuine person say?"Being authentic isn't about making yourself a certain way. It's not even about finding out what you "really" enjoy as opposed to what other people enjoy, or who you "really" are as opposed to who other people are. Authenticity is allowing your likes, dislikes, personality, appearance, hobbies, and beliefs to be fluid, to change, to evolve as you learn, grow, and experience the world.At its core, authenticity is the practice of surrendering the tiresome task of keeping up appearances and taking up of the lifetime work of allowing what is already within you to come out while you remove as many internal and external obstacles as possible.And who knows what will spill out of you if you just allow it to? Who knows what is within you awaiting recognition, awaiting permission to show itself to the world? Even you don’t know—until you try. Or, rather, until you stop trying. Until you become curious.
Most of us want to be authentic. Yet, we are not who we think we are. We are made up of a rich array of facets and possibilities, many of which we ignore because we label them as “bad”. We create a cardboard cutout image of ourselves to look good to others. The discord between who we are and the image we have to live up to slowly kills our aliveness. When we suppress parts of ourselves, it lowers our mojo, sense of fulfillment, leadership effectiveness and impact in the workplace.