February 19, 2021

Is Your Authenticity Being Corrupted?

There’s a question that comes up a lot when we work with people and help them to be at their best as a leader: 

How can I lead from a place of secure identity and authenticity? 

We want to find a way to avoid proving or hiding and to steer clear of having an overly reactive identity. But how? 

For most people, authenticity is actually an over or under-reaction to something that's happened to them. They’re trying to prove they're tough. They're trying to prove that they're competent. They're hiding from the fullness of who they are, and they're not sharing the full strength of their opinions, their personality, or the weight of their presence.

And what I'm really fascinated by is what it means to live in this beautiful place where I'm not proving and I'm not hiding. The place where I'm still being strategically influential, but I'm overflowing at my absolute best into my roles and into my relationships. 

Because when you’re not showing up in an authentic way, the people that you end up drawing to you (at work, or in your personal life) may not match up with the kind of world that you want to build.

So here’s a question that I heard once and now ask myself consistently: 

What do you have in place to keep your authenticity from being corrupted? 

And I came to a conclusion that there are 4 things I do to protect myself from corrupting my authenticity:

  1. Time on the calendar with vulnerable relationships that grow me.
    This means taking time with people who you don’t need to keep secrets from, and who don’t high-five you in your dysfunction. Build a team of people around you who can function in this way for you - where they understand the shadow dimensions of your leadership, they see a trajectory of growth in you, they encourage you, and they practice courage in speaking truth to you.
  2. Keeping margin in my calendar for truth-telling
    This looks different for everyone, but it’s important to take time for truth-telling with yourself. Reflect: Where am I at? What's happening? What do I really want? What am I not really liking? What am I excited about? Where am I forcing things? In this way, you want to catch things before they happen, or at least while they're happening, rather than after they've happened. Then you can get to your intuition and your truth, not to the thing you're forcing or that you were wishing was true.
  3. I change my approach but keep the focus on who I am.
    This could be with my daughters, with my wife, with close friends, with teammates. If I'm not getting the result that I want, the way that I can protect my authenticity from being corrupted is not to blame them or to complain about the problem, but instead to look at what am I doing that's being misunderstood. 
    Then I change my approach to understand them better and be understood. As I change my approach, it doesn't mean I am being fake if my change in approach is helpful. The change in approach serves me, I don't serve it. Hint: for those who have been through our coaching...think leader, empath, sage.
    Note: The first two items above are really about a pure expression of authenticity. This third one, you could lose yourself in because you could change yourself to be liked or change yourself to get the results you want. And that’s not what I’m saying. We still want to have a solid, secure identity, but just pay attention to how it shows up.
  4. Recognize the ways I put myself into inauthentic places.
    This is about understanding the ways that you get yourself in trouble (for you). For example, for me: I can say yes, too much. I can talk myself out of my feelings. I can neglect to pay attention to my body. I can show up in a way like “you tell me who to be so we can move forward”. 
    You want to have a familiarity with yourself so you can start to recognize the times you get yourself in trouble. Recognize the times when your strengths become your weaknesses. All of the things I just listed are great and make me who I am; they become a strength but done poorly at the wrong time and in the wrong way they become weaknesses. 

As I pay attention to those four, they operate for me as guardrails.

What about for you? Where might you need to pay attention to what it means for you to be at your best engaged, as healthy, as possible, as effective as possible, living in the dynamic tension of both of those? 

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