Lately, authenticity has become all the rage. In the age of the influencer, it has now become cool again to be individual. To be yourself, unique and bring your full self everywhere. Gone are the days of blending in and following the crowd, which can only be a good thing, yes?
First and foremost: be yourself
It goes without saying that I am a firm advocate of individuality. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd; it has never appealed to me. What I am realising lately is that being yourself matters more and more.
I write as I have just got back from an interview, and am marvelling how interviewing advise has changed over the years. It doesn’t feel that long ago that common wisdom was to fit in and present yourself as someone who blends in with the team.
However, nowadays, authenticity is much more important. Naturalness and genuine enthusiasm are much more valued qualities in candidates and most recruiters are much more holistic. They are looking for someone who fits in in a much different way. Teams are balanced with a mix of different personalities and aptitudes and gel because of shared purpose and work experience, not shared viewpoints on everything.
Authenticity in action
On a personal level, I am a great fan of allowing people to be themselves. I feel the move to a more casual workplace, where people are free to dress to express their personalities can only be a good thing. When people are free to share details of their hobbies and interests it brings a wider perspective to those who interact with them. Not to mention the curious amongst us generally love learning more.
And this matters in writing and blogging too. Who wants to read a book when the author doesn’t seem really invested in it? When it reads like a textbook or instruction manual, I know I start to doubt the author. I need to believe that the writer is interested in the subject and really wants to be writing this piece to convey information to me.
Accept minor flows
A key part of authenticity for me are flaws. Yes, flaws. We all have them, me no doubt more than others. I have a selfish streak and no patience. By embracing authenticity I argue we need to start being more tolerant of others minor flaws.
By that I mean if your friends is always 10 minutes, or your colleague starts every sentence with ‘But’ that these should be small things that you accept as a part of them. Nobody is perfect, and we always should make allowances for other quirks. We all have them, and if we can tolerate others quirks the world will be an easier and less stressful place to live.
Find people who appreciate you as you are
In 2019 I feel it’s really important that we find people who accept us as we are. This goes for most aspects of life. If your work wants you to be a radically different person, are you sure you are in the right environment for you? Over the years I have learned that all workplaces (and even teams within) operate very differently even in the same industry. If one isn’t perfect for you, there may be another that suits you better.
The friends we chose to surround ourselves with tell a lot about us. Do we pick friends who appreciate all we bring to the table? Friends who let us be ourselves, live true to ourselves and feel free and unconstrained? I always feel it is worth evaluating how you are spending your time and making sure you are spending more time with the friends who bring you the most joy.
Family is a different kettle of fish. You are generally stuck with them, but I do advocate spending more time with family members that let you be yourself. And letting your time tell the story.
Polish rough edges
Authenticity and embracing minor flaws is a great idea in principle. However, I have many rough edges. Many automatic attributes and behaviours that I think are far from perfect. I’m a big believer in understanding your flaws and categorising them. Some you feel are minor flaws that are just to damn hard to sort. Others are more concerning, and rough edges you might want to work on.
Rough edges that impact others
In addition to rough edges I want to work on, I also have rough edges that I have a blind spot to. As they say, there are the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. A wise person understands these and makes allowances and plans for the latter category.
Moreover, some of these rough edges hurt other people, even unintentionally. The emotionally intelligent are very aware of this impact of their behaviour and that is somewhere I’d love to get to. Being able to see my blind spots more clearly and read their impact on others is something I am personally striving for.
Be Authentic and Still Polish
In summary, I believe we should all strive for authenticity. And bring our full selves to all areas of life we participate in. As we let others put up with our minor flaws we can develop more and more tolerance for the quirks of others as we participate in the tapestry of life.
Alongside this, I believe we can polish those areas we aren’t 100% happy with. Being authentic doesn’t mean accepting all flaws, but adopting a more tolerant mindset and still pursuing personal development that matters.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Do you believe in authenticity?
- What about rough edges?