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Personal Authenticity – It Cuts Both Ways

Personal Authenticity – It Cuts Both Ways

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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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