In my previous article, Will The Real You Please Stand Up, I looked at the importance in developing personal success and personal authenticity. This is grounded in accepting yourself as you are. More than that, it’s all about liking yourself as you are. Authenticity is critical to trust, trust is the cornerstone of influence, and influence is the foundation of success.
This relationship is widely recognized, but not so well understood. Which is a shame, because most of us don’t realize that we all of us possess, right now, the essential ingredient for success in our personal, and our professional, lives – an authentic “me”.
That personal authenticity brings success in the truth, and nothing but the truth. But it isn’t the whole truth. Lawyers understand this very well. They’ll tell you that a jury will only believe a witness if that witness is both credible and reliable. The same test is applied by anyone you set out to influence in your business or your personal life.
Personal Authenticity Means Self-Knowledge
Here’s how it works. If someone believes that the personality I present to them is genuine – the real me as against something role-played for effect – they’re more likely to trust me. Put it another way, if they don’t believe I’m genuine they flat out won’t. Tempting as it often, is to try to appear different to, or more than, we really are. We’re not as a rule, good at it. If you know you’re not being honest, then the chances are, your audience will too. Game over.
I must speak in measured terms. Say only what I know and can show, to be true. I should not exaggerate, even when it appears to be in my interest to do so. And I must always do what I say I’ll do. Doing these things will lend enormous weight to what I say. More than this, it will add confidence to how I say it. I will be credible, I will be reliable and I will be trusted. What I say will carry authority, and will have impact.
This is the essence of the relationship between personal authenticity and success. And, critically, authenticity has to be both internal and external, central to your relationship with yourself as well as with others. The internal part, the self-appraisal, is seen by many as a negative process – an exercise in fault-finding at best, self immolation at worst. It isn’t that.
It’s about identifying areas of relative strength and weakness, recognizing the contribution of each to the whole you, and accepting what you find. This is catharsis at its best and may be the most empowering thing you ever do.
What makes the connection with success is how you leverage the authentic “me”; it’s how your actions create the trust, and through that the influence, that unlocks the door. It should be a planned process, because success, however it may appear, is not random or a matter of chance. It is the result of conscious planning and conscious action.
Personal Authenticity Means Integrity
Another word for this is integrity. It’s the honesty with which we interact both with ourselves and with others. It’s our uncompromising adherence to the principles by which we choose to live our lives. And it is a matter of choice. We’re all capable of it, and no-one can take it away. Which is good, because integrity is the bedrock of our personal wellbeing; it makes us confident, it makes us happy and it makes us successful.
When you understand the role of personal integrity you can leverage it to scale your success. Your integrity is leverage, of and by itself. The more faithful you are to your true self and the more honest your approach, the greater will be your credibility, your authority and your impact.
The more widely you practice this approach, the wider your success. And here, again, the balance between internal and external is key. Success is the product of value given; the more value you give to the greater number of people the greater your success will be. Crucially, however, whatever the number of those people, one of them has to be you. There has to be balance between helping others and helping yourself – a balance between self and service, to borrow a phrase from Laurie Ellinghausen.
A life of absolute service is noble in concept but hardly fulfilling. We all need to eat, to be stimulated and to enjoy. The alternative life of absolute self is scarcely more appealing. Taken in its terms we live, and die, alone.
The necessary balance requires us to recognize, and to be comfortable with, our own value. Too many of us don’t. We under-value ourselves and we don’t ask for – we don’t even look for – our true worth. Understanding our own value is an integral step in the journey of self-discovery by which we come to authenticity. And, like success, it can be scaled. The more value you can offer, the more you can command.
Don’t just be true about yourself. Be true to yourself.
This above all – to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Polonius; Hamlet Act I Scene III – William Shakespeare
Featured photo credit: matt jones via magdeleine.co