The other day, I had a girlfriend over who I hadn’t connected with for a long time. As we settled onto the couch to catch up over tea, she asked me what was new in my life.
In that moment, I had a choice — I could have used one of many stock answers that many just automatically fire, like “Not much, everything’s good!” or the classic, “I’m so busy these days!” (Sound familiar?)
In the end, I chose not to do that. I reflected for a moment, and then I decided to be honest. I opened up to her about how hard the last while has been: how work has been utterly overwhelming, watching my mom’s journey with Alzheimer’s has been so hard, and how I was navigating my romantic relationship, despite trust issues from being cheated on in the past.
I chose to be 100% real with her, despite not having seen her in over a year. And something remarkable happened: when I was finished, she gave me a big reassuring hug, took a deep breath, and candidly shared her own struggles with me.
In giving me her life news, she told me that she hadn’t been able to share some of it with anyone else. So why could she share it with me? Because I was my Authentic Self with her, and in sharing my ups and downs with her very vulnerably, I created space for her to do the same. And the experience was freeing for both of us.
This is what the authenticity principle is all about.
The authenticity principle, the teaching at the core of my book, is rooted in the concept that when we consistently choose to know, embrace, and be who we are — especially what makes us different — as often as possible, we feel better about ourselves, we bring this spirit to our actions, and we invite others to do the same.
In really knowing, understanding, and embracing my own truth, especially the things that make me “imperfect,” I had the ability to answer my friend’s question honestly, and I wasn’t afraid to do so. And, most powerfully, in sharing with my friend, I allowed her to bring her own truth and her differences into the light.
It may sound cheesy, but choosing to be authentic actually has the power to shift our individual lives and our collective culture.
I can tell you based on my own experiences, and my years of work as a leadership coach, that breaking through the barriers that hold us back from being ourselves is immeasurably freeing. Once we do so, we can be more creative, innovative, connected, empowered, and inclusive of others. And most importantly, we can build stronger, more meaningful relationships with other people — at work, in our families, and with our friends.
So take a moment to reflect on someone you know who is fiercely authentic — whether that’s a sibling, co-worker, best friend, or spouse. How do you feel when you’re around this person? How do you behave?
I encourage you to start using the authenticity principle now. It will change your life.
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