We hear a lot of people talking about living authentically. I even speak, coach, and train authenticity myself. When you show up in life, to your job, and/or in your business you should be able to be yourself. So many times we have had to "shift" or "code switch" to assimilate into certain environments, conform to a non-inclusive culture, or to make other people feel comfortable. That is not authenticity. If you are bubbly and upbeat, you should be able to display that, if you are outspoken, you should not have to feel muzzled. If you like bright, vibrant colors, you shouldn't have to change your wardrobe to match the wardrobe of your colleagues; just use good judgment and tone down when appropriate. If you prefer natural hairstyles, curly, braids or locs, you should not straighten your hair or wear a wig if that is not who you are or what you like. You get my point, right?
But listen, being authentic comes with accountability and responsibility. You can't show up late to work or meetings all the time, because you are "always late" and that's "authentically" who you are. You can't curse everyone out at the board meeting because none of them agree with your proposal and "cussin'" is how you normally get your point across outside of business and you are just being "authentically you". You can't keep blaming "the way you were raised" on your bad behavior and claiming " that's just how you are". No ma'am and no sir.
Even with authenticity there are boundaries, especially if you are a professional. You can still be true to who you are and control when, what, and where. You don't have to give all of who you are at all times. Authenticity means what you do give and what you do show.....is real. It does not mean that every element of who you are has to be displayed in every space, in every situation.
This past weekend during the NavigateHER conference that me and my cohost worked passionately on developing and executing, the subject of authenticity came up a couple of times. One of those times was during the VIP session with Dallas Mavericks CEO, Cynthia Marshall. She said "you have to be authentic to a point; some of that stuff needs to be left at home", LOL. It was funny when she said it but we all knew what she meant. I agree with her. She told the truth. Some folks use the term or act on the premise of authenticity loosely, inappropriately, or irresponsibly.
As I have said before, you get to decide how you show up each day. That's powerful! Just think about what your day entails, who you will be interacting with and in what context and present those authentic parts of yourself that are appropriate for that particular setting or occasion. Leave the rest of the authentic you at home, in the car, on the bus, the subway, or at the door. I'm sure there is another space where all of that authenticity will fill into perfectly. You are who you are but you must still be accountable for how you show up.
You've heard it before. "There is a time and place for everything".
Be sure that you are being responsibly and strategically authentic!
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