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Optimum Talks Blog

Being Authentic In The Workplace

by Jenna Bacchus

Being Authentic at Work

The concept of being authentic is gaining traction in the field of leadership, but what does it mean? Essentially, to be authentic means to live in a way that reflects the person that you believe yourself to be. You don’t imitate others, you don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and you act without influence of who the world thinks you should be. This seems simple in theory. Yet many people struggle to live authentically, especially when it comes to the workplace. In this study by University of Exeter, they found that more than half of us cover up some part of our identity at work to try to fit in which can damage your career.

Within the workplace, social pressures such as the desire to fit in among colleagues and wishing to appear professional act as barriers to reaching an authentic life. Although it is difficult to overcome these barriers, the countless benefits that come from being your authentic self make it worthwhile. These benefits have been proven by several studies and include increased happiness, improved confidence, stronger work relationships, and greater success in your career. This is because when you live authentically, your work begins to align with your true interests, values, and passions, instead of those that others impose on you.

The journey to living authentically is equally as rewarding as it is challenging. To help with this transition, we have provided four steps that are essential to living a more authentic life.

Step One: Determine Where You Cannot Be Real.

When you have a moment, sit down and think about the interactions you have daily. Are there any that make you feel the need to be fake?  What people are you not yourself around? What situations force you to act this way?

Step Two: Determine Why You Cannot Be Real.

Next, ask yourself what is preventing you from being open and honest about who you are. What is stopping you from sharing what you think? What are you afraid of?

Step Three: Understand What You Can Gain From Being Authentic.

Ask yourself what life would look like if you were to be who you truly are. What is the worst outcome? What is the best outcome? What do you stand to gain from being authentic?

Step Four: Let Go Of Inauthentic Behaviour.

Being authentic is a paradox, you cannot become authentic by trying to be authentic. What you can do, is focus on letting go of your inauthentic behaviour – such as hollow statements, insincere interests and formulaic responses. It is time to follow your instincts, speak your mind, overcome self-doubt, and be the best version of yourself that is free from the expectations of others.

To be authentic is to honor who we truly are at our core and be able to share these talents with others.  Keep in mind that these four steps can be helpful on a broad scale, but they are not a perfect guideline. You must decide where and how you can implement these steps, and work towards an authentic life at a pace suited to you.

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