Being your true self is important at home and at work but sometimes it’s difficult to truly embrace what that means. Today we’ll talk about how to show up as your authentic self in your personal and professional lives.
Over the long-term, you can’t be who you’re not. Sure, you can pretend for a while but the real you eventually comes out. So, if your authentic self is primed to bust out of the shadows anyway, why not embrace it right now?
Here’s why it’s important to be authentically you
It sets you free – When you’re authentically you, you’re no longer held hostage by other people’s opinions or the assumptions you grew up with and inadvertently took into adulthood.
It means you’re living your values – When who you are and how you act is aligned to your real values, that’s your authentic self.
It’s easier for other people to trust you – Most of us can spot a fake a mile away. So, when you’re busy hiding behind a professional persona, your audience picks up on that and it makes them leery of you. People don’t trust people who seem inauthentic or like they’re hiding something.
It boosts your confidence – When you’re being authentically you, the chattering fear and doubt in the back of your mind quiets down. And when that gremlin doesn’t sound so loud, it’s easier to move forward with confidence instead of getting bogged down with imposter syndrome.
Before we talk about how to show up authentically, let me address a common conundrum at work: how to show up when you’re upset or in a bad mood. Being authentic doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time. When a bad mood sets in, it’s okay to express it in an appropriate way. After all, you’re only human! Expressing your low mood means acknowledging it to yourself (and maybe others) without letting it drag you into Debbie Downer territory. In a professional setting, being authentically you while feeling bad means putting aside any moodiness and acting professionally, even if you’re not your usual buoyant self.
Being someone else always creates a whole set of other problems. Instead, why not cultivate your authentic self and live life to its fullest?
How to cultivate your authentic self
Take stock of your current situation – When we’re dissatisfied with something, the cause may appear as an external factor, but reflection tends to turn up the truth; the problem starts at home with us. Dissatisfaction and superficial relationships are a sign that your authentic self is trying to get your attention and show you there’s a better way.
Identify your conscious-based values – What do you truly value and are you living those values across all areas of your life? If you’re not living those values, ask yourself “Why not?” as a starting point. There are two types of values: fear-based values and conscious-based values. Fear-based values come from the past; you’ve been taught you must value them—or else! Conscious-based values serve and support you and are aligned with what you really want. Find them to open the door to your authentic self.
Ask a trusted friend for feedback – Ask a trusted friend or colleague about how you show up. You can ask, “When we’re in different situations, how consistently do you see me showing up as who I am?” Or, “How do I show up in a professional setting?” And, “How do I show up in a personal setting?” Be open to the feedback and reflect on it. You can also get this feedback closer to home. I know my kids are totally comfortable giving me brutally honest feedback!
Check your body language – In any communication, your audience interprets your message based on these inputs in this order: body language, tone of voice and words. Aligning your body language and tone of voice to your words helps you show up authentically. If you’re not sure if your body language and tone supports or sabotages your message, get someone to film you and see for yourself.
Give yourself permission – Only one person can give you permission to be your authentic self and that’s you! When you decide that you won’t change who you are to make someone else happy, you’ll be amazed at how free you feel. It took me years to realize that I don’t need people in my life who don’t accept me. But I’m so glad I did! I have a strong personality and an amazing life and if that rubs someone the wrong way, that’s about them, not about me.
We each have so much to offer when we cast off doubt and fear and start showing up authentically in our personal and professional lives. And when women are authentic in the boardroom, the company benefits from increased openness to ideas and being exposed to more points of view. I invite you to use your unique gifts to your advantage and show up authentically across all domains. Because if you’re not yourself, who are you being?
Hi, I’m Vicki Bradley, an executive coach in Toronto and the Founder and CEO of Women in Leadership Empowered.
I work with women pursuing success in executive leadership roles and the presidents and CEOs who understand that strong businesses are built with strong, diverse leadership.
WIL Empowered is a year-long program where we use all four aspects of leadership development: Coaching, Networking, Peer to peer mentorship and skills development. Our mission is to help women develop the skills, motivation and accountability required to succeed in their business and personal lives.
Take our five-minute leadership quiz to discover where your leadership skills are now and where you’d like them to be this time next year.