Authenticity in the Workplace

Why does the term “be authentic” seem like it’s been popping up everywhere these days? If you Google it, over a million results appear.

Why do we all have this notion that we have to “be an authentic person” in the first place? Let’s take a look at what it means as an “authentic person”? According to a quick search, the definition states, “An authentic person puts the people around them at ease, like a comforting, old friend who welcomes us in and makes us feel at home. … Though the people who preach its virtue often don’t understand exactly what the word means. Authentic is defined as: “not false or copied; genuine; real.” Google, Feb 28, 2017

While that sounds nice, it’s a lot harder to achieve in life than one might think. And, it turns out that if we felt it was difficult to be ourselves around our friends and family, it feels near impossible to do be our authentic selves in the workplace.

Especially in the beginning. I mean, why do you think that a whole style of “behavioral style interviewing” has popped up? Why do we feel like we need to play the part of a different person to get that job in the first place? Then, when we finally get hired, we’re surprised and now expected to be this person that we were during the interview process (hint: not “being authentic”).

Talk about unhappiness? So, why is it so dang hard to be our true selves at all times? Well, my belief and by my own experience, it comes down to fear.

Since most of us feel like we have to behave like one person when we’re at work, and a different person when at home that in itself creates a social expectation. If you want to be yourself at all times, you’re bucking the system.

Because, in our industry it’s not “normal” to be paid FOR you are, using your true strengths instead of just the skills you bring in various roles along the way.

A lot of people talk about being your authentic self, and I must admit I have been one of them. I’ve always thought that to be your authentic self is the way to true happiness. After all, we are not afraid to scream, shout and ask for to get our needs met, most don’t care what others think of us, whether we have confidence, happiness, a good job, we are just being. I am discovering, that we have no limits on who we can be or what we can achieve.

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I know, I have made a lot of changes on the way to achieving my goals, and this got me thinking. Have I deviated away from my authentic self? Am I someone else? This comes from being depressed and constantly being overlooked for promotions, etc.  I am tired.

We fear that we will be judged and our true self-rejected. We are afraid that the people we work to with will withdraw the support and confidence they hold for us. However real this fear feels, it is not true. The people who genuinely believe in you already will be overjoyed to see this new expression of the true you — the people who don’t were not interested in your success in the first place. You have to face the fact that those relationships were never authentic in the first place, accept it and move on. So, I’ve changed my beliefs about what I thought I could achieve, around success and, around others who you look to as mentors, colleagues, etc. And of course around who I am.

At times the idea of being your authentic self may keep you exactly where you are in life and present in this industry. Everything has the scope to be improved, your ideas; if you don’t question your values, actions and make changes, you will never realize your untapped potential.

The sky is the limit. Ideas that change happen slowly or are defined by circumstances will limit your possibilities. If there were no limits, where would you be? Who would you be? Wherever you go, and whoever you are, the core of you will still be present. So go regardless, fearless and don’t wait for confidence, resources, money, clients, customers, more training. Do what you can now, and all of that will come later.

Kay Kelison is a respected social media strategist and a principal sourcer who has been in the recruiting industry over fourteen years. She currently works as a Principal Researcher / Trainer for Zillow Group where she partners with both business and recruiting functions to build candidate pipelines, develop targeted sourcing plans, build and manage successful sourcing initiatives, and manage customer/partner expectations. Additionally, she is involved in the developing and managing diversity recruiting efforts through social networking platforms on websites including LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. Kay is an open networker and encourages you to connect with her.

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