Sunday, February 8, 2015

Is Being “Authentic” Always Best?

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “authentic” is:

  • not false or imitation:  real, actual 
  • true to one's own personality, spirit, or character
  • Synonyms include; bona fide, genuine, honest & true.

A lot has been written lately about the importance of being authentic - in person, online, and in your business.  While I am all for projecting “you” into all you do, I think that instead of saying we need to be authentic, we should instead focus on being our Best Selves.

This means putting the very best of what we can offer out there for all to see.  

This goes beyond just showing the “real” you.  It means taking what is good about ourselves and our values and promoting them to the fullest extent.

That does not mean we shouldn’t be honest about our short comings or our failures ~ that is what makes us human.  And sharing these helps bond us with others.  

Face it, we have all floundered.  Failing and making mistakes goes hand in hand with reaching forward and attempting things we have not tried before.  It also means trying better next time and being willing to change what does not make us happy.  Sharing this side of ourselves is good.

But what if your “authentic” self includes bad behavior?  What if it is “in your nature” to be condescending, judgmental, or unkind (even if it is only sometimes)?

Putting our best selves “out there” should mean that any petty, unkind, or derogatory thoughts about others be kept inside.  Often times these are fleeting and temporary (at least hopefully!). Sharing those in person can be hurtful and sharing them online makes them permanent.

Being “authentic” should not include being mean or destructive ~ and I have found a lot of this going on lately, especially online.  

The “trolls” that simply leave comments to stir controversy are the worst.  They hide under the guise of “being themselves” and under the label of  practicing “free speech”.  They are nothing more than online bullies!

This is not being “authentic”.   

What being Authentic should mean is that you are true and honest about YOU.  It should not mean being hurtful towards others and trying to explain it away by saying that you were “just being honest”.  

This is most definitely true when it comes to your business. Reaching out and sharing YOU is the best way to forge great relationships;

“the first companies that make an effort to develop an authentic, transparent, and meaningful social contract with their fans and customers will turn out to be the ones that are the most successful in the future. While brands that refuse to make the effort will lose stature and customer loyalty.”
Simon Mainwaring

When I write my blog, it is always with My Voice.  I share my opinions on topics that I believe will help you and your small business, or even discuss those that I think won’t.

I strive to keep my core values and my “why” squarely in mind. Doing this gives me greater focus and drive.  (You can find out more about this in my article; “I Know Why I do What I do”).

I believe this helps my readers and clients relate to me far better than if I was less honest and forthcoming.

The same goes for any comments I make on the posts of others.  I may disagree with the writer (and expressing that is healthy), but I will always respect their view.  I am not in attack mode.

This quote definitely speaks to me:

It promotes understanding, accepting, and, most of all, loving yourself.

But none of us live in a vacuum.  What we say and do effects others.  And we should not forget that under the guise of being ourselves.

For me, the true definition of being “authentic” means to be happy and content with yourself (faults and all) and allowing
others the freedom to feel the same.

When being Authentic means you know and understand yourself - all your strengths, weaknesses, and what makes you unique - then you have won.

But, when it means you feel free to hurt others in the process, then I think it is an Epic Fail!

Authored by

I write about issues that effect small business owners.  Look for tips and news that can help you in my blog,  Subscribe and you will get one new article every week, and no Spam!

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