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Really Authentic?

June 23, 2010

What is Authenticity?

From the classroom to the board room people are engaging in conversations about authenticity.

The concept of authenticity has been discussed and debated for centuries.  It is subjective, elusive.  It is the holy grail of business and personal development!

At it’s core, authenticity is truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion and intentions.

From a philosophical perspective, authenticity is the degree to which a person or business is true to his or her own personality, spirit or character despite the pressure of friends, family, or outside circumstances (including Wall Street).

Being authentic really depends upon how you look at authenticity.  It could be a simple as being completely focused in the moment, whether doing the dishes or writing a blog article.  It may be as complex as being embroiled in the deepest search for inner truth.  In either case, an element of seeing what is is present.

When we avoid dealing with the beauty and reality of what is, life can quickly become empty and monotonous.

What difference does it make?

From a business perspective, authenticity is the perfect foundation of Brand Identity.  When authenticity is successfully achieved, your customers come to understand your strongest characteristics, attributes and values.

This separates you from the crowd.  It gives people a REASON to do business with you versus an apparent competitor down the street.

This cannot be done without knowing who you are, how you do what you do, and why.

The Trap of Authenticity

A danger of any idea becoming popular is the “Disneyfication” of the concept.

The term is used to Disneyfication imply the homogenization of consumption, merchandising, and emotional labor.  It can be used more broadly to describe the processes of stripping a real place or event of its original character and repackaging it in a sanitized format. References to anything negative are removed, and the facts are watered down with the intent of making the subject more pleasant and easily grasped.

But how does that happen?

Humans are born with a yearning to be authentic.  When we are young, we are fearless and wildly authentic!  As we grow older, we learn lessons through “consequences.”  As we do, we develop “FEARS!”  If allowed to grow unchecked, those fears slowly cover the desire for authenticity.

Even though the authenticity has been practically suffocated beneath layers of garbage, it still sends out tiny cries for expression.  We feel it deep in our core.  We yearn to feel it in our environment.

This is why AUTHENTICITY is all the rage now in marketing!  We CRAVE it…

What we don’t get is that EVERY human experience has a good and a bad, a light and a dark, an up and a down…  We want the good, the light, the up.  We avoid the bad, the dark, the down.  By working so diligently to experience only good and avoid all the bad, we practically strip our existence of all meaning and make the black hole where authenticity should be in our lives exponentially larger.

We will pay any amount of money to have someone give us a pill or put us through a class or absolve us of our sins.  Just, please don’t make me go through the PAIN!

The beauty of the human experience is in the contrast.  How can we truly appreciate joy without having experienced sadness?

Have you ever had a piece of cheesecake after you got home from the gym?  How good did that taste?  You earned it!  You worked hard to be able to eat that guilt free.  Did you woof it down?  No!  You gave 30 minutes of your life on the Stair Monster for that privilege!  You’re gonna savor that puppy!

We’ve all heard the expression absence makes the heart grow fonder…  Not having something around or paying a price, makes the joy of having it later on that much greater.

How does PERSONAL authenticity intersect with BUSINESS identity?

You’ve met that person who was so fake it made you uncomfortable just being near him or her, right?  The one who’s always been there, done that…  It was bigger, better, faster, brighter.  “Oh, you haven’t seen ANY-thing!”

Well, if you don’t have you core message down, or if you aren’t doing something that feeds a passion within you, then your business kinda feels that way to your clients.  If they don’t have something for people to connect with, you don’t have a shot at being really remembered in the marketplace.

When you started your business, something inside of you called to you.  It drew you out.  It wouldn’t leave you alone.

That calling is your authenticity.  That little tiny little voice is that piece that’s been covered up by all those fears and judgments.  Listening to that tiny little voice can make your business a HUGE success, if you play your cards right!

Time did an article on Synthetic Authenticity in 2008.  Apparently, consumers make buying decisions based on emotion more frequently than they do based on rational thought.  Basically, since consumers are, themselves, often out of touch with their own authenticity, they are craving something that will help them to feel fulfilled.

Enter the authentic entrepreneur.  When you serve your customers authentically, you will provide amazing products and services.  But you will also give them an experience that leaves them feeling satisfied and possibly better about themselves.

Think about the last time you were served by someone who seemed so sure of themselves and was so centered that you felt like you were heard.  Your experience of doing business with that person or company was probably amazing.  I imagine you’ve even gone back for more.

The people you hang out with are the people who “get you.”  Why should doing business be any different?

And, don’t forget, your employees are people, too!  If you deal with them from a space of authenticity, they’ll feel better about themselves and working for you.  As a result, they’ll be much more likely to serve your customers with a spirit of care and concern.

How can I live authentically?  Simple Steps

Remember, authenticity cannot be faked!

Step 1:             Paint a picture of what you want

Step 2:             Check your “map” to see where you are now

Step 3:             Use Creative Tension – Decide to be excited about the journey

Step 4:             Take Action – Nothing happens until you do

Step 5:             As reality moves to match your vision, CELEBRATE!!

Have FUN with the process!  It’s about letting go…

Would you like to go deeper?  Check out our new program Carve Your Perfect Niche.  This workbook and audio set are designed to walk you through the process of getting to the bottom of you…

For more information, contact me at

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