Growing up, our TV spent most of its time in the closet. It was set free from its prison for special events like the Olympics or an occasional Friday night when we could watch TV for a whole hour! Back in the day, my siblings and I didn’t even mind that our TV was tiny – smaller than my computer screen today. We were just happy when we were allowed to watch it!
When we went to Nana’s house, the rules were different; the same was true when we went to the home of some a family friends. I’m not sure they ever turned their TV off. That’s where I first watched The Lawrence Welk Show and a show called To Tell the Truth.
Watching To Tell the Truth was like being Nancy Drew, at least in my mind. Just in case you’ve never seen To Tell the Truth, it consisted of four celebrity panelists – people like Ronald Reagan, Johnny Carsen, Dick Van Dyke, and Peggy Cass, who tried to pick out which of the three contestants was telling the truth about their unusual occupation or experience. Essentially one of the contestants would tell the truth, while the other two would “lie.” In the end, the host would ask, “Will the real ________ please stand up?” and that was my chance to see if my hunch was correct.
Pretending to be someone you aren’t is fun when you are a contestant on a show like To Tell the Truth. You may even enjoy dressing up and pretending on Halloween or to attend Comic-Con, but, in real life, acting as if you are someone other than who you are definitely has its downsides! If you really want the truth, people are attracted to those who are authentic – themselves! It just feels right.
Authenticity is choosing to show up, be real, be honest, and allow your true self to be seen. Brene Brown describes authenticity as “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brian Goldman and Michael Kerris describe authenticity as “The unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in one’s daily enterprise.”
In spite of how appealing authentic people are, being authentic is trickier than you might think! Being real in a culture that favors fitting in can entice you to pretend. Add to that the desire to belong or be perfect and soon you are hiding yourself in big and small ways. Here are three ways inauthenticity might show up:
On the surface, people pleasers are exceedingly likable creatures! After all, their whole goal is to please others. They rarely say no, are dependable, and will help out family and friends whenever they are in need, even if they have pressing matters of their own.
The problem is that people pleasers are so focused on others that they have become completely oblivious to their own desires and needs. When your focus is always on pleasing and keeping others happy, you forget what pleases and makes you happy! That can lead to anger, resentment, and passive aggressive behaviors like being sarcastic, joking in a cutting way, or engaging in actions that allow your frustration to subtly seep out.
Scripture urges us to love and serve others, and at times that will mean being sacrificial, but if you are consistently loving and serving others to the detriment of your own needs and well-being, that’s no good! After all, scripture also states that we are to love others the way we love ourselves – not better than we love ourselves. (Matt. 22:39)
Trying to please others is an indirect way of controlling and manipulating that is driven by fear rather than love. And when you are all about pleasing others, the real you remains hidden! Remember, people appreciate someone who is genuine and real, even if you are a bit quirky and not the same!
The need for acceptance and/or approval
The desire to belong is a normal human need; after all, fitting in feels good. However, when you feel a need to alter who you are or to perform in order to gain acceptance or approval, that’s another story – it’s inauthentic.
When you fear rejection or failure, you will seek acceptance and approval. Remember, as a believer, you already have God’s approval and it is not based on your performance, but on how much He values you!
Did you know that more women are perfectionists than men? And while most people might not describe themselves as perfectionist, there’s a good chance they have some area of their life where they hold out an unreasonable standard for themselves.
Making an effort to do your best is commendable, however, attempting to be perfect – that‘s impossible! And to appear perfect is exhausting! Not only does it keep you working overtime hiding all your imperfect bits, it keeps you from being vulnerable or asking for help.
Strangely, perfect people aren’t all that appealing. We are drawn to people we can relate to; people that are willing to admit they are not perfect and don’t have it altogether.
Besides, perfectionists suffer from a host of problems, including burnout, anxiety, depression, health problems, eating disorders and suicide. Who wants that?
Why is authenticity so important? Because as a leader, who you are, is who you attract! John Maxwell describes it as The Law of Magnetism in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. As a leader, if you want to attract people who are authentic, you have to be authentic. And there are some very good reasons to desire authentic people around you. Authentic people are:
- Self-reflective and connected to their feelings
- Able to make decisions
- Not motivated by the need to please, gain acceptance or get approval.
- Open to other perspectives
- Values driven
- Kind & respectful to others
Ready to embark on being a more authentic version of YOU; the person that God created you to be? Here are a few ways to encourage the true you to emerge:
1. Embrace your identity in Christ.
Don’t just remind yourself of your identity in Christ, but really meditate on it so that it soaks in and becomes an integral part of who you are! Own it!
2. Connect to your feelings
Take time to reflect and journal. Know what you are feeling as well as what you need. It is impossible to be true to you if you aren’t clear on what you are feeling, thinking, or needing.
3. Ask for what you need
Don’t assume others will know, because odds aren’t they won’t figure it out! Instead, communicate your needs or desires as clearly as you can.
4. Deal directly with issues
When issues with others pop up, deal with them directly. Let them know how you feel in a loving and tactful way so you can move on!
5. Practice self-care
Remember, you can only love others to the extent that you love yourself. If you make it a habit to care for you, you will extend that same grace to those around you!
6. Operate out of abundance
Believe that there is more than enough to go around. You won’t get any more if you pretend to be someone else.
7. Let go of the outcome
Stop trying to control your future and your relationships. Trust that God has your best in mind and that you don’t have to pretend to be someone else, or achieve more, to be valued. You are enough! You are already abundantly loved by God – He can’t love you any more than He already does!
8. Risk being vulnerable
Being authentic is not always the safe option, but keeping it real is the most truthful option!
In the game of life, showing up and being the true you is always the best option! Not the easiest choice, but the best choice! And when you choose to be the real you, it encourages those around you to follow suit. What better way to be a positive influence and influence, after all, is at the heart of leadership!
Where in your life or leadership does the real YOU need to show up?
© Can Stock Photo / Rohappy