24 Oct 3 Ways to Stay Authentic in the Workplace
You are probably wondering how in the world I am going to trim down a list that could be hundreds long into three. Well, you are not alone. I asked myself that same question when this this topic was brought up. There are a ton of ways to be authentic, right? People are different, how can I talk about three and ignore so many others? Rather than be authoritative on the top three, I want to give you three that I have found to be extraordinarily true in my life. Three that, when finally realized, changed my life.
But first lets take a step back…
In order to identify ways we can be authentic in the workplace, I think we should first define the word. Webster defines the word like this:
- Authentic: adjective a: worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact. b: conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features. c: made or done the same way as the original.
Read that again. What stands out to you? Can I tell you what stands out to me? In order to be authentic, we have to know who we “originally” are. Being authentic means we are reproducing “essential feature” of our original selves. So…do you know who you are?
This is where I’ll start…Know Who You Are. Only by knowing who you really are, will you be able to be yourself at your place of work. In his play Hamlet, Shakespeare’s character Polonius advises his son Laertes:
This above all: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
The world is full of people who wear masks, who put forth a facade in order to protect themselves or portray a version of themselves they believe you will like or that will get the ahead. Go to any coffee shop and listen to the conversations being had. Better yet, meet an acquaintance at a coffee shop and share you. How hard is that for you? My guess, pretty difficult. We guard ourselves against potential threats to who we are, whether real or perceived or merely fantasized. If you live this way away from work, you cannot hope to be authentic while at work. So I ask again, who are you?
This leads me to my second point…Be Transparent. This is probably the most difficult challenge I pose to you. Transparency requires bravery. It requires that we be vulnerable to the unknown. Vulnerable to judgement, to mockery, to rejection. It is also the most freeing and rewarding thing we can do. Author and teacher Brené Brown describes Authenticity as the following:
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Let me state again that being transparent, and thus being authentic, is the most difficult of tasks. But one I believe is required of us in an ever guarded world. People are drawn to those who have the courage to be transparent. Those who have the courage to show their true selves. The pretty, the ugly; the good and the bad. If you live openly, you invite others to do the same and that is where real connection happens.
Lastly…Be Truth. That is not a typo. Truth is more than saying what is on your mind or stating what you believe to be true. Truth is a way of being, a way of living your life in contradiction to that which is false. Recently I came across the following quote::
“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.”
Telling, speaking, living, loving. Truth is action! About a year ago I left a great job at what used to be a great company because the “truth” was being distorted all around me. People in positions of authority were leading without integrity. They were lying with their words, contradicting their actions, all while requiring everyone around them to be honest and forthright or suffer the consequences. They thought they were being clever, that the lies being lived wouldn’t affect their authority. But that is the thing about truth. People know when you live it and when you don’t. Event the smallest of inconsistencies will be called to light. My truth…I left a job that was paying for the roof over my families heads and putting food on our table and I had nothing to replace it with. But I realized that staying and supporting those people and that company made me a liar. It contradicted my authenticity.
As I stated at the beginning, the list of ways you can and should be authentic in your workplace far outnumber the three I have listed here. These are simply three that have changed my life once realized and put into practice. I would love to hear examples of others that you live by.