Being authentic feels amazing. It’s a liberating, freeing, and empowering way to live. But if you want to uncover your authentic self to live better, it can feel like a daunting, monumental task. “Who am I?” is a question that artists, philosophers, scientists, spiritualists, and other seekers have been pondering for millennia, and answering it is a life-long process — but it doesn’t have to be so daunting.
In The Authenticity Principle, I introduce the concept of the Authentic Self as an expression of your core values, beliefs, needs, desires, thoughts, emotions, and traits. It’s who you would be, and how you would behave, if you didn’t fear the negative consequences of your behavior. When it comes to uncovering your Authentic Self, starting small and focusing on the practical is a good place to begin.
For many of us, the pervasive message to “be yourself” feels elusive — because it’s not grounded in concrete, practical advice. To help demystify it, I developed what I call the Seven Behavioral Dimensions, a range of areas where we can visibly and tangibly showcase our authenticity. Understanding these dimensions, and how you show up in them, can help you to pinpoint aspects of your Authentic Self and give you the power to experience them more often.
The Seven Behavioral Dimensions reflect a range of behaviors in which we make decisions, both consciously and unconsciously, about how to act at any given time. All day long, we’re knowingly and unknowingly making decisions about how to behave in the following areas:
The magic happens when you have a very clear understanding of how you most want to behave across these dimensions, because these behaviors reflect your Authentic Self. Exploring how you want to show up in these dimensions, and how great it feels for you, will ultimately yield clues that will help you show up authentically more often and experience that liberating, empowering feeling that comes along with it.
Find a quiet place where you’ll be undisturbed for about an hour, with a notebook and pen (I suggest writing by hand for creative brain work like self-reflection). Set yourself up for success by leaving your phone and any other gadgets in another room — minimizing your distractions will help facilitate a more reflective mindset.
Now take some time to reflect on the following questions, writing down your answers with as much detail as possible.
For each of the Seven Behavioral Dimensions above, answer the following questions:
Next, reflect on your answers:
Self-reflection activities like this one are a clear path to better understanding your Authentic Self, and will help set the stage for making more empowered choices about how to behave. If you want greater clarity, meaning, and purpose in how you live, work, and lead, take the time to better understand what authenticity means for you. It’s worth it.
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