To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
The first thing that I noticed in the image above was the cello in the middle. To be fair, there’s an accordion to the left which is possibly the “most-different” of the bunch, but I digress. Sometimes, we try too hard to become something that we’re not in hopes of “fitting in”. For myself, the cello stands out because it is not a guitar in an image that is filled with guitars. Now, whether or not that same cello possesses authenticity as a character attribute is beyond my ability to determine, but I hope it helps to make the point.
Too often we are surrounded by “copy cats” and what I like to refer to as “bobble-heads”. I’m not talking about the fun kind that are made in the likeness of celebrities, athletes, or other well-known figures. In this application, I’m referring to the sort of person that agrees with everything said with no original thoughts to contribute. I believe the other common expression is a “yes man”.
The Audacity of Authenticity
Authenticity is about representing your true self to the world. In every interaction, we have a choice. The easiest route is always to go along with popular opinion. Incidentally, common sense isn’t that common anymore, and there’s no promising that popular opinion is based in logic nor the greatest good. On the other hand, we can dare to be ourselves and have an opinion.
An important point: I don’t mean to suggest that the world (or your co-workers) want or need to hear your opinion on everything. I also don’t mean to imply any need to make an issue out of every conversation. Hopefully it’s intuitive, but being true to who you are doesn’t mean being confrontational or insufferable.
Understanding Who You Are
This could easily go overlooked, but you cannot be authentic without first knowing who you are. It’s been a recurring theme throughout these posts, but it is imperative to your success that you take the time to understand your motivations and skills while maintaining objectivity. If it means a weekend in a tent by yourself without technology, then so be it. Your potential and value to others requires that you take the time.
Having a handle on that, the challenge now is to live in a way that is consistent with your values and your strengths. Both the social world and the corporate world are nearly overflowing with imitators and impostors playing parts. What we need as much or more than ever is men and women that have the tenacity to be themselves. Please don’t mis-take me. I’m not proposing some sort of anarchy or overly-entitled society. Truthfully, I’m merely hoping for an environment where people are allowed to be genuine.
If you see it from another’s perspective: no one wants to be in business with a fake. When you pitch a business idea that you don’t have the passion to see through, you’ll be found out eventually. Instead of seeking another opportunity to support a popular notion, look for a way to bring your unique skills and insight to others. Dare to be you and offer your best. I’d wager you’ll find value in it.
Thank you for your time.