Being authentic can be surprisingly difficult, especially in business. I often work with people who have no problem being genuine in real life, but who really struggle with authenticity in business. I hear from clients that, in business, they have to appear to be mega-successful — not just sort of successful, and not “hey, I’m growing a business here,” but really successful, in order to be taken seriously. There’s so much posturing and pretending, because people believe that you can’t become successful unless you appear to already be successful. But that’s just not true! In fact, it’s just the opposite.

We’re all works in progress.

I’ve seen “behind the scenes” of a lot of the people who many of us think of as mega-successful, and things aren’t always how they seem. A well-known wealth coach I know spends most of his time talking about the power of mindset, but I know that he struggles with exactly the same issues everyone else does: doubt, uncertainty, insecurity. We’re all works in progress. Every single one of us. We all have questions and insecurities and fears. It’s how you deal with those internal struggles that matters.

The truth has a way of seeping out anyway.

We think we’re so good at hiding our secrets from the rest of the world. But whether it’s a financial crisis, marital problems, personal demons, or something else, even if you think you’re keeping your skeletons hidden, you’re probably not. Truth has a way of sneaking out there and betraying our lies. Truth may show up in an uncertain look in your eye or in the way you keep your secrets, but know this: it’s almost impossible to keep things totally hidden.

It’s not all about appearances. It’s about truth.

Far too many folks out there seem to think that if you appear to be super-successful, you’ll achieve legitimacy. But it’s not about how you seem, it’s about how you are. If who you really are matches up with who you say you are, then you’ll appear credible, because you are credible. On the other hand, pretend you’re something that you’re not and you’ll come off as shady.

The real secret to gaining legitimacy is authenticity.

We’re all after legitimacy, in the end. So take the time to build your expertise and knowledge, offer your services at a discounted rate while you gain experience, and build in the right systems to support your products and services so you can offer unparalleled good service. You’ll build credibility by doing things right, and with credibility and legitimacy comes real success.

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