Be Authentically You
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

We tend to worry about what others think about us. If we are not careful, we can spend a lot of our time wondering how others will react to us. Through scientific research, we now know that others spend most of their time thinking about themselves – and not us! This research should encourage us to be our authentic self. And, we should do just that.

Being authentically you is critical to being both happy and effective. When we try to be like others – or focus on only being liked by others – we often are not letting our best qualities and talents shine through. And, people can usually see right through it. We are then less effective and less authentic. When we are ourselves, we get to be us, and others get the “real thing.”  We all win.

It’s very easy to acquire habits that are not true to ourselves. We learn them from others. When we notice them, we need to take steps to become more authentic to who we are. Let me give you an example. When I was in the Army, I learned from many leaders to be highly disciplined and even critical of those who were not. When I did so, I tended to be harsh with others. It felt bad to me – but it was what I knew. At times, I would convince myself that it was “tough love.” Mostly, I was just being tough. My authentic self is much more tolerant and allows others to operate as they more naturally do. There is certainly a time for discipline and being critical. I use these skills as necessary. But, I have regained my authentic self over the years. I feel better – and perform better – when I act more like me.

Being authentic as a leader is a very big deal. Being fake will not work – people notice. The good news is they aren’t usually thinking about us. They are mostly thinking about themselves. This gives us the freedom to experiment with how we best lead – and to change it when we find better ways to lead and live.

So, what is your best authentic self? What qualities do you naturally have that can improve your performance and happiness? Will you act out of this self more often? How can you help others be more authentic? Can you notice and encourage those around you to be their best self? Help others be authentic and give to them, and yourself, the gift of your own authenticity.