The importance of being….. authentic!

In the early part of my career (the 1990s!!) I worked alongside people I perceived to be very professional; cool, calm and collected. At a young age, I was influenced to believe that if I wanted to be successful these were key attributes, true, but not to the point that your personality disappears. I achieved the cool, calm, collected and professional persona but at the expense of personality and therefore authenticity.

Every day I was putting on an act, a show, which was in itself stressful. Very stiff upper lip! At the time, I was always worried someone would see through me. In the end, that’s exactly what happened – thankfully!

I was extolling the virtues of my professional persona to a friend who gave me a quizzical look and said incredulously, “when you go to work you’re not yourself? How does that work? Your friends and family love you for who you are, why would you’re work colleagues feel any differently ?”

This single piece of feedback was hugely influential as I asked myself the exact same questions. In fact, it rescued me from being an emotionally flat-lined suit going through the motions of each day as an alter ego. Instead, I chose to be myself, one and the same person and became a vibrant, successful, trusted and authentic individual.

Days became easier, no more pretence and with a new positivity and openness both my own and my teams performance improved. Being truthful about who and what I was – and especially the fact I found humour funny was liberating.  

Now if I catch myself acting in a way I’m not quite comfortable with, I pay attention to what triggered it and decide how I could have responded differently. 

This means I learn from the experience and put myself back on track to be the most authentic version of myself. Someone once said to me, “everyone else is taken so this is as good as it gets, make the most of who you are!”