In our last blog we discussed the value of being authentic – being the real you as opposed to a ‘you’ created by old, conventional, homogenized systems of thought. Like religion. Or politics. Or any other system or ‘ism’.
Why is it important? Because when you know and show the real you, people love you for it and you are at peace with yourself. You can be the person no one else can be. People respect you more at the workplace. You get the results you want at work. In relationships, you can be both strong and vulnerable so that people love you without taking you for a ride. In life, you can be utterly original. Perhaps you will be occasionally flawed. But you will be 100% original. And you will feel gladder in your heart, wiser in your soul, and you will most certainly sleep better at night.
Is this a panacea for all your problems? No.
Will there still be days of misery? Yes.
So then what changes? The outlook changes. There is less false armour around you and more real feelings and thoughts. Your engagement with the world becomes more real, more powerful, and more long-lasting.
It becomes what you really want, as opposed to what a hand-me-down system wants.
How then can each of us strive to be more authentic? Where to start?
Un-hide the first thoughts
We are raised to not utter the first thought that enters our mind about a person or an issue or a feeling. So, instead of saying “I don’t like it all” we have learnt to say “It works on some levels but on some other levels it could use a little improvement.” Now there is nothing wrong with civilized, reasonable, balanced discourse. But not at the cost of the TRUTH. If the truth is that something doesn’t work or that someone is not OK, then not conveying that isn’t a sign of civilization; it’s a sign of suppression and stupidity and self-sabotage. Say exactly what you feel and think. Let it be thought through. Be kind. Be reasonable. But say it. Don’t be another beautiful voice in the crowd. Be a truthful voice. Be a brilliant voice. Be a voice with hard edges and considerate intentions.
Do what you love
“Do what you love” is the default ideology of the millennial generation. The twenty-something segment of that generation seems to have less trouble chasing what they love, be it work or relationships or life at large. But the 30-something generation, the 40-something generation – now that’s a different story isn’t it? We were raised differently. We didn’t know there were so many different modes in which we could know and live the world. We had no internet. We had no phones.
And our parents beat us into respectable shapes.
Respectability is the cornerstone we all built our houses around.
Respectability is not a bad thing. For a society to thrive, people need to have respect for values and traditions and other people’s feelings. People need to be balanced.
But there are instances when respectability becomes a false façade and what is required is some personal anarchy.
Say, you worked for ten years at an IT job and made some money. Now you are feeling more and more frustrated. Something is missing and it is missing sorely. You have an idea what to do next but it is not RESPECTABLE.
This is not authentic.
This is carrying on what is old and unproductive because you are full of fear.
What would be authentic would be to take a risk.
Yes, being authentic not only means doing what you love. It means swallowing fear. It means being unafraid. To fail disastrously. To succeed unprecedently.
Don’t be nice to people
Whoa! What do we mean? Don’t be nice to people? How can we not be nice to people? We must be. That’s what we were told. Also, more importantly, we like to treat people the way we would like to be treated. Which is… nice? Or with niceness and firmness? Any mature person will tell you they want to be treated with niceness and firmness. Just niceness is a kind of delusion. Just firmness is a kind of prison. People need both. So the next time your husband asks you your views on his latest project don’t be nice and protect his FEELINGS. Tell him the truth honestly and kindly, and let his feelings catch up! Don’t be nice to people. Be real.
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Life is full of decisions. In fact, we can say that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of our decisions. We don’t realize this but the decisions we make in 2016 affect the course our lives may take in 2026. This is not a warning. All I am saying is if we want significant improvements in our lives – big, bursting successes, new things, seismic shifts of happiness and achievement – then we are not doing it in some mythical future; we are sowing the seeds – whether we like it or not – NOW. Greatness is not about what you do once a year. It is about what you do every day. And if – in your everyday decisions – you chose comfort over uncomfortable then you will not be authentically great. You will not reach the authentic heights only you are capable of. You will shrink back slowly into complacency. You will become a big, respectable mountain of AVERAGE. Your parents will be very happy with this. But your soul will be angry.
So, please make everyday decisions that are 1) linked to your goals and that 2) make you uncomfortable, in a good way. Or else you will never be authentic.
So today, for a change, go out there and try these actions. Speak your mind, chase what you love, don’t be Mr. Nice Guy, and take uncomfortable decisions. If you have always wondered what’s the big deal about being authentic then this is it. Being authentic is not a fad. It’s not a beatific catchphrase uttered by boring self-improvement evangelists. If they have corrupted this word for you, then think afresh. The word is important! Being authentic is not a choice. Being authentic is the only way to be you – in a world of replicas, of beaten systems, of average, of same old same old!
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.
Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.