I cry easily; I love listening to people’s life stories. I prefer to see the good in people and remain friends than focus on what is bothering me. In most situations, I would prefer to compromise than win.
Yet, when I entered the business world I thought I needed to tuck my “nice girl” neatly away so that I could be taken seriously. I feared empathizing with people’s life would make me less decisive, unable to make tough choices, a push-over. If I felt my emotions coming to the surface I would exit to the restroom to tuck them back down rather than loose credibility.
Was it was necessary for success as a woman in those early years of women climbing the proverbial ladder? I cannot say.
Today authenticity is the ingredient most needed for you to succeed.
Being the same person in the board room as at a dinner party not only is simpler than splitting yourself into fragments, it also builds trust in who you are as a person. Leadership and managing people requires people who are following you to trust you. Trust is also vital in getting investors to back your ideas. It affects your relationships up, down and across the board.
Becoming real is a big, important step you can take–whether climbing the corporate ladder or starting your own venture–to achieving the success you desire.
The first step in moving towards greater authenticity is to notice how you feel in different situations. If you feel uncomfortable it is a good indicator you are holding part of yourself back.
- Do you need to say something critical to an employee?
- Is there an integrity issue in your workplace that you are afraid to confront?
- Have you put on a mask to “get ahead,” pretending to be someone you are not?
When you start taking stock of these uncomfortable moments, you will start to see a pattern. Noticing any pattern will uncover if you want to be nicer but are afraid to be seen as weak, or perhaps are holding back your opinions for fear of rejection.
Whatever the pattern is, if it reveals that you are not being true to who you really are it is time for a change! Just revealing to yourself what is happening often starts to change it. You can also do this brief exercise each time a similar situation arises that will improve your ability to be true to yourself and dismantle the habit of pretense.
- Whenever you notice a feeling of discomfort start breathing deeper.
- If you are asked for a decision, or feel you need to take action, rather than jump into auto-drive create space for yourself
- State you want to take some time to consider the situation.
- Ask for other information before deciding.
- If nothing else is possible, go to the bathroom, to give yourself a few minutes before taking action.
- Time is your friend and helps you clarify what is true and what is how you do things because you think you “have to.”
- In the quiet space ask yourself how might you respond that could relieve your discomfort, rather than ignore it.
When you bring more of your authentic self to your business life you will find your leadership soar, your influence grow, and most importantly you will feel more fulfilled and happy in all parts of your life.