Girl swearing to tell the truth by holding up one hand with her other hand on her heart

Stop Being Authentic

Girl swearing to tell the truth by holding up one hand with her other hand on her heart

The world really doesn’t need your authenticity.

I know that’s not a popular opinion. People LOVE to talk about how all we have to do is “be ourselves”, and that authenticity is more important than ever in the face of AI and technology. The root of the word authentic is “be yourself, and that’s another thing people say you should do. Be yourself.

But which self should I be?

This week I finished the book The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin. I LOVED it. It’s so easy to read and applicable to everyone one of you. Because you are creating your life. Thus, you are a creative. Towards the end of the book (page 363) he says this about “being yourself”.

“The suggestion to be yourself may be too general to be of much use. There’s being yourself as an artist, being yourself with your family, being yourself at work, being yourself with friends, being yourself in times of crisis or times of peace, and being yourself for yourself, when by yourself.”

This resonates with me. I wrote The Elegant Warrior because sometimes I am elegant, and sometimes I am a warrior. They are both “myself”. They are both authentic. Therefore, striving to be myself or be authentic actually limits me, and it might limit you too.

Here are 3 beliefs about authenticity.

1. I believe it is better to be creative than authentic

Rubin’s book taught me a lot about creativity. It made me consider that we are constantly creating ourselves, who we are in the world and who we want to be. And that means we can create the self that we want to be in any given moment.

When I prepared witnesses to testify, I didn’t tell them to be authentic. They were authentically angry, scared, impatient and frustrated. No jury finds that compelling. Instead, I told them to be their best selves. If it was a surgeon, I’d encourage them to talk to the jury the way they talk to a confused patient. If it was a nurse, I asked them to be the way they’d be explaining something to a scared family. Creating your best self in the moment leads to more wins.

In my membership, The Self Advocacy School, we just did a session on Meditation. I wanted to share how meditation/mindfulness/noticing can make members better at asking for what they want and getting it. If they’re able to be present enough, in every moment, to create their best selves, they will be far more likely to get what they want. And it’s already working for them. (If you want to join us there, the doors to SAS are closing soon and when they re-open in the spring it will be at a higher price. But if you join now, you’ll get the Founding Member price.)

We can create our best selves. And that doesn’t mean waiting to be some perfect person in the future. Who is my best self in this moment? I can create that, here and now.

2. I believe that credibility is better than authenticity

If you want to be your own best advocate, you have to be credible. People need to believe you, believe in you and believe that you can help them. In my keynotes, coaching and in the SAS Membership I teach people how to build credibility. And I share one credibility multiplier. If you want to build credibility fast–OWN IT.

Own it when you are wrong. Own it when you don’t know something. Own it if you missed the mark, made a mistake. When you own your weaknesses, your credibility goes through the roof. This is especially true if you’re a leader. Owning your mistakes is a perfect combination of vulnerability and authenticity. It makes you credible.

It’s another way to choose to be your “best self” in the moment. And really, this is all about choices. When you choose to own your mistakes, you’re showing people that you won’t hide them. When you choose to say I don’t know, you’re showing people you won’t mislead them. That’s what leads to belief, and belief leads to trust.

Build credibility. It’s the foundation of almost all of your successes.

3. I believe in collecting experiences, and that as you do you will find so many more “best selves” you have yet to be

With time and experience I’ve come to believe that it may be that we’re meant to have more than one career. I know I am. I’ve been a lawyer, a TV anchor, an author and now a keynote speaker. I don’t think I’m done. And I also believe that we are meant to be many different selves.

I’ve been myself as a student, a teacher, an attorney and an author. I’ve been myself as a keynote speaker, a friend, a girlfriend, an aunt/sister/daughter. I’ve been my best elegant self and my best warrior self. And I am just getting started.

You have many different selves. If you embrace that, you can focus less on being authentic and focus more on being your best self in the moment. And with some mindfulness, that can come more and more easily.

The world doesn’t need your authenticity or for you to “be yourself”. The world needs your best self–whatever that means in the moment. Whether that’s broken down and crying in bed or shining brightly in a moment you’ve only dreamed of–it is always enough.

Heather Hansen

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