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Our (in)authentic lives

June 13, 2011

“Authentic –adjective 1. not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.” (

I’m listening to an audio book right now; Be yourself : everyone else is already taken by Mike Robbins.  I haven’t finished it yet but I’ve been moved by it already and so I thought I would talk about authenticity in my post today. 

This blog isn’t a book review but one section of the beginning of this book spoke of how society can keep us from living authentically.  I won’t go into all the nuts and bolts that the author discussed (which were very good) but instead just say something struck home for me with this.  I was hit with a multitude of memories of people telling me that I’m opinionated.  Too opinionated.  I realize looking back how frustrating this has been for me and how very influential. 

As a professional I have begun to walk into the administrative and leadership worlds.  I have begun to take on more responsibility at work and I really do enjoy it a great deal.  I can’t tell you how important it is to find value in what you do with those 40 hours a week I’m “on the job”.  It’s not always roses, but I think it’s worthwhile.  I came onto the job having spent 3 years as a stay at home mom.  Yeah, my professional experience was nil.  The first week at work I walked into the president’s office to request a purchase for an ILS (integrated library system).  I went right for the jugular; I said very plainly, “I don’t know how to be subtle so if I say something that crosses some sort of business lingo boundary I’m counting on you to tell me.”   In essence I was supporting the fact that professionally we can’t be 100% authentic because it might cross some sort of social rule. 

Recently (and certainly since listening to this book) I have realized how pervasive that idea is.  I mean, why can’t I just say “We need another $40K for this service in order to be where we need to be because, x, y, z.”?  Even something a little more personal like, “I think person A would be better in this role because; x,y,z.”  I really struggle with this.  I frequently say to my colleagues; “just tell me what you want to say.”  Does anyone else do that?  I find it so refreshing when someone just says what they are trying to say.  Why all the subterfuge?  I’m going to try to answer my own question and guess that it is somehow fear related.  What’s crazy is that it is so circular now that when someone is authentic and says what they really want to say they are frequently called out on it for not being sensitive or tactful, but if they did say what they really meant to say then there would be less misunderstanding.  Or at least, that’s where I would put my money. 

So many egos, even in a service driven profession like my own.  What if we really operated for the greater good and did it authentically?  What would that look like?  Would things like intellectual property even be relevant anymore?  Property and ownership would be different don’t you think?  What if it was OK to be different, and think different and feel different then someone else.  I often express to my friends that if everyone were Vulcan than it would be so much simpler.   🙂

Ironically I’m one of the most emotional and passionate people I know and certainly I struggle with irrational feelings.    I think that too opinionated label was thrown on me when I was being authentic and it’s one of the reasons why maybe I beat around that bush a little bit more than I would like to.

What about you?  Let’s find the positive, can you think of areas in your life where you ARE living authentically?  Please share.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2011 12:40 pm

    I agree… I love authenticity! However, it is hard for a lot of people to be that way and for many reasons. That is a sad thing to me. I too love honesty…food for thought…. when it hits my own personal pride, or it’s directed towards me, it’s much more difficult to swallow, even if it’s good for me! I know many amazing people that use their words honestly, but approachable too (my heros)! I am grateful when it is those people that approach me. Those friends, that have taken the CHANCE, to tell me a tough thing that I need to hear! They have helped me to be stronger and strengthen me to change. A little grace and understand helps the HONESTY go down, that is for sure! 😉 The toughest moments are the ones when truth needs to be stated, but not wanted to be heard. Then there are those moments that I have laughed out loud, because one of my friends said something out loud I was thinking. Good article friend!

    • June 15, 2011 7:20 pm

      Great words of insight and I thank you for them! I also agree, I have a few select individuals that have been able to bring honest perspective and when needed, criticism to help me grow and reach further. When honest words are spoken with love and compassion it always makes it a little easier to take. 🙂

      I hope you continue here with us and bring your thoughts with you!

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