What Does It Mean To Be Authentic At Work?
I’m not suggesting you wear beads in your hair, your tie-die shirt or a Harley jacket to work. I’m also not suggesting you hug everyone.
Authentic is defined as “of undisputed origin.” Authenticity therefore is to be of your undisputed origin. That means authenticity isn’t about what you wear or even your “personality.” Authenticity is who you are as a person at your core.
After years of trying to please others, be right, look good, be safe and many other things we work to do to “keep it together” and get ahead, it’s easy to draw a blank when posed with the question “who am I really?” It’s funny that this is such a hard question to answer. But face it we all come into the world in the same way. We are a unique, magical, biological amalgamation of DNA. Yet we strive to be different, special, loved, cherished, honored, and respected. In this effort to be something we are not, we lose touch with our authentic self.
Being authentic isn’t about removing masks or being always politically correct. Being authentic is about:
- dropping the judgments (about yourself and other)
- ending the tiresome pursuit to please others
- recognizing you are good enough and you deserve respect (without demanding it)
- accepting that you have everything you need within you
In short, being authentic is about being free and open enough to connect with others and to tap into your inner wisdom and energy.
Why Authenticity In The Work Place Is A Must
The success of your company, your team and you depends on every employee, including yourself, being authentic.
I know this may sound a little cliché, but bear with me.
A workplace is made up of individuals. For that workplace to be successful and achieve the desired results, the individuals must work together and that means they must connect with each other. If you aren’t connecting with your co-workers you aren’t getting things done to your fullest potential.
Companies spend thousands, if not millions of dollars, each year trying to get their employees to work better together. Yet they don’t address the heart of the matter and that is creating an environment that fosters authenticity. If you want a workplace where people collaborate, are energized, creative and innovative, provide excellent customer services and bring their best, start by being authentic.
How Can You Be Authentic At Work?
If you are not being authentic at work, it’s a scary idea to consider. I can tell you that the first time you are authentic it’s frightening.
The first time I was authentic at work was when I talked openly to my customer on how they could gain competitive advantage by packing and marketing differently their services products. There were many reason I shouldn’t have that talk. For one, I wasn’t responsible for budgets, marketing or revenue streams. I also wasn’t hired to solve that problem nor even to bring it into the light.
Then there were the internal reasons I shouldn’t have boldly spent late night hours thinking about how shall I present my thoughts on that matter. The internal reasons were all the internal conversations I was having:
Surely no one would listen to me. “Who was I” to be doing this analysis and presentation, I was just the analyst of a little software team and no one listens to analysts? What if I step on someone’s toes? What if they thought my analysis was stupid or wrong and I got fired?
Here’s the thing about that negative chatter. It’s rarely right. None of that awful stuff happened, the presentation was well received and changes were made.
Despite success stories, I find most people are still wary of speaking their mind and being authentic at work. The key to being authentic is quieting the voices in your head and speaking up with your ideas, your thoughts and your creativity.
Being authentic is no stopping even when you get shot down. As the saying goes, if you don’t succeed, try again. Change your approach. But don’t give up.
Life is short and thats a fact. Spending one third of it in a space which doesn’t resonates with your inner self is like committing a crime against that so precious and uniquely designed self. So think if you’re making yourself a real service whenever you decide authenticity is too risky strategy to go?