Is Too Much Authenticity Holding You Back?

18 February, 2015

It's Easy

If you’ve been following my work for a while you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of authenticity. I really believe that we can do more and be more if we embrace all that we are. In contrast, if we play small so that we can be accepted, then we’re just accepting mediocrity and invisibility.

I also firmly believe that authenticity is at the heart of everything successful. But it’s with sadness that I watch people use authenticity as an excuse for bad behaviour or lackluster performance. It’s the second one I’m focusing on in this post.

It’s easy not to stretch.

It’s easy to shrug our shoulders and accept our limitations as being ‘who we are’. “I can’t possibly accept the invitation for a radio interview. Being in the spotlight is just not me” or “If I take on that (bigger) role I’d just be faking it”.

In this scenario authenticity becomes a limiting belief. Instead of pushing us forward, it impoverishes our lives. Interestingly, almost anything outside of our comfort zone feels inauthentic and contrived. At first. The truth is, the complacency we feel when faced with a new challenge is an old idea of ourselves. The new idea is way more scary. When we’re unsure of ourselves in a new setting, we easily retreat to our old habits. But that’s not good enough. If we’re going to grow, then we have to fear less.

How do you become more effective and empowered but stay true to yourself?


1. Pretend to be someone else

Play with a possible persona, one that’s greater than your current self. Walk around in it, speak as if you were it and then own it or discard it, and pick up another. This is entirely acceptable while you’re discovering the new you. Who knows, you might just find a good fit.


 2. Volunteer

Plunge into another project. Put your hand up to get exposure to new concepts, new people and new ways of doing things. Let your true self emerge out of who you become when you relate to new people in a new way.


 3. Model your behaviour

Observe a few people you admire. What do they do that you find attractive and effective? What do they do so well you can’t ignore? What of theirs can you modify, improve and refine until it becomes uniquely yours?


 4. Experiment more

Instead of trying to constantly perform in your best light, give yourself permission to be a student, to experiment, to take more risks. Start exploring the edge-of-the-envelope possibilities of who you might become.


5. Let perfection go

As soon as you do this, you’ll find that you’re no longer hung up on the outcome. You’ll take more risks and unknowingly inspire and motivate others to do the same.

I don’t know what you’ll become when you stop using authenticity as a cop out, but I do know that you’ll have no regrets in the end.


Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.