It’s Show Up time, Folks!
So, how does one do authenticity? Firstly, we must acknowledge what we will stand for and what we won’t stand for
Article by Malcolm Levene
Emma tells her significant other, John, with a smile on her face, that a sun and sand vacation sounds great. Although Emma hates the sun and loathes the way sand feels against her skin. She says yes when she feels no. We often say things that don’t match the way we feel – that’s normal. However, when we do so at the risk of betraying our values, beliefs and our true feelings, nobody wins. Let me be clear, when I talk about ‘true feelings’ I’m referring to something that’s rooted in our core beliefs, that which makes us who we are. Often, those core beliefs are not acknowledged fully by us, and consequently neither conveyed nor experienced by others. It’s almost as though we keep our best bits a secret. We fear dropping the mask. We worry what others might say, if we let them know who we really are. Yet, when we begin to discover our authentic Inner Brand, we start to experience our authenticity. And as important, so do others. We start to Show Up.
So, how does one do authenticity? It’s all very well reading about it, talking about it and being desirous of it, but that’s not enough. Firstly, we must acknowledge what we will stand for and what we won’t stand for. In part, this means listening to our intuition, being open and having greater self awareness. In the personal development arena, showing up is usually aligned with being yourself. I might add, in my opinion it isn’t just about just being you, it’s about being the best version of you. And in terms of showing up authentically, this means demonstrating, not remonstrating. In short show me how you show up.
A story I heard in Hollywood; the film director listened to the actor auditioning, then remarked, “OK, you know the script inside out, but I want the character to show up. Let’s see if you can emotionally connect with the character.” The actor was taken aback, as he’d worked so hard to learn his part of the script. However, he really wanted this role, so proceeded to get into character. He took his tie off, ruffled his hair, hunched up his shoulders and mimicked an American-Italian accent. He really showed up. The moral of this tale is this: getting to the truth of who you aspire to be is something that necessitates doing more than the minimum required – going the extra mile. We have to dig deep to discover our authentic Personal Brand.
We must avoid angry emotions, they just cloud our view. Therefore, they in turn cloud the view of how others perceive us. An HR executive I know very well, greeted me red-faced, slightly disheveled and somewhat irritated. This was a surprise as she is normally calm, engaging and centered. When I asked if she was okay, she promptly responded with, “I told my PA that I need that paperwork completed by midday today. It’s 4:00 p.m. and still not complete. I gave her what for, that’s me being authentic.” I explained that her attitude didn’t seem to be authentic. I suggested that she had emotionally become somewhat unhinged. She nodded approvingly. In short, at times we can betray our true Inner Brand by allowing ego and negative emotions such as anger run the show.
When I discuss emotions, it brings me to EQ (Emotional Intelligence). I’m reminded of an article in Harvard Business Review with a focus on EQ. The piece ended with, ‘Your IQ will get you the interview, but your EQ will get you the job’. Over the years I’ve guided numerous senior executives how to understand the real power of EQ. This is rarely easy, as so many in the financial arena are understandably right brain driven. By using role-model exercises I play back to them what it’s like to be the other person when they are in attack mode. This often prompts an element of denial or disbelief. However, once confronted, after a cooling-off period they come round. Eventually, we both agree that some EQ improvement is important and relevant. I don’t consider myself an expert in the field of EQ, though I have researched it in depth through Daniel Goleman’s books, workshops & seminars.
I’d like to suggest you ask three people who know you, who you have no emotional ties with, how they’d describe you to someone who doesn’t know you. My assumption is that you’ll pleasantly surprised with what they say. This will enlighten you to aspects of yourself you may not have considered or neglected. In short, it’ll give you a positive boost. Too often we beat ourselves up, not being kind enough to ourselves. I often think – how would it be to behave to oneself as one might to a dear friend?
Being authentic is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We need to employ the 3 Ds: Discipline. Dedication & Determination. Yes, it’s hard work, but I assure you the outcome makes it all worth it. Which reminds me, a while ago I presented a somewhat intimate workshop (no more than eight people). Each of the attendees were in the property investment business and very successful to boot. My presentation was focused on how to sell yourself successfully. The group were engaged, asked very intelligent questions and was very positive. However, when I explained that my approach, in part, is underpinned by personal development, as if in unison they said, “That’s too much hard work.” Like many, the group wanted a quick-fix approach.
The thing is, quick-fixes do not have longevity. Initially, they tend to induce a high, then shortly afterwards the high wears off, to reveal authentic feelings, like anger, frustration and disappointment at being taken for a ride. As reported by many weight loss experts, almost all quick-fix diets don’t work. The fact is in 90 per cent of cases the weight returns within six to nine months. Moreover, one experiences the psychological downside by beating themselves up for not achieving their goal (in the long term).
My suggestion is this, allow intuition to play a part in how you make decisions. I’d like you to consider that it’s actually in-tuition – things you’ve learned, experienced, mistakes and successes. Therefore, if something feels wrong, it probably is, conversely, if it feels right it’s highly likely to be accurate. Ignoring our in-tuition is like crossing a busy road with our eyes closed.