In my season of VALUES discovery the first value that emerged was Authenticity. Honestly, it was no surprise. This word has felt descriptive of me through all of my memorable life. The more I held this value up to the light the more it continued to show itself as one of my CORE values.
As an exercise I decided to write a short treatise on what I meant when I said “I value authenticity.” Below is that treatise. This is nothing scientific. It is merely a gathering of ideas that live inside of me around this value. It’s my best attempt to spell out what I think and feel when I say “Authenticity matters to me.” If you choose to read further please keep that in mind.
What is Authenticity to me? – A vulnerable candidness with myself. Appropriate, humble self-transparency. Based in the belief that my honesty with others begins with an honesty with myself. Authenticity is about clarity with MY purpose – primarily for MY sake. It is as much about acknowledging what I don’t know as it is about affirming what (I think) I do know. Doing this requires being candid with my own confusion and self-doubt which is always with me.
Authenticity is not about self-criticism. If I find myself here I have gone too far. Neither is it about self-pity. It is, however, about giving myself a break. At the core of my authentic self is the declaration that I’m not all that…but neither am I nothing. Therefore my higher invitation is to self-balance.
Authenticity is about ME being real with ME. The end is a better self-diagnosis which puts me (and all of us) on a healthier path to progress.
Supporting Values: Candid, Transparency, Forthright, Honest
A few lessons I’ve found helpful while living with this value that seem important to note…
- Not everyone values authenticity as you do – deal with it. There will be moments when you find individuals (or groups) that do not value authenticity as you do. No matter how much you think they should – check yourself. You will have a tendency to get triggered when that happens. Resist proclamations about their rightness or wrongness. It is seldom helpful. Instead, invite others (via curious questions) to explore their stance. But realize that they may refuse to take that trip – and that may just be the way it’s going to be.
- Definitions differ. Even though someone declares themselves as authentic – their definition of authenticity may not be (and probably won’t be) the same as yours. Stay curious.
- Don’t mistake authenticity for composure. Some may be significantly authentic in the midst of their lack of composure. Others may be significantly inauthentic in the midst of their composure. How each of us choose to flesh out our authenticity in a given moment is our decision. It is our act of leadership. I can’t control how other people will choose to present themselves – but I CAN choose how I will present myself. It is for that reason that being clear on my purpose, before I bring an intervention, is critical.
- Protect yourself. As much as you would like to believe that deep and vulnerable authenticity is appropriate in every situation – it isn’t. That doesn’t mean that some level of that authenticity can’t help many situations. Find the balance. Be purposeful about what should be revealed and what should not. When trust is low take it slow.