Articles & Insights

Be Your Authentic Self

What is an Authentic Person?

The definition of authentic:

            “not false or copied; genuine: real”

             related to a person:

            “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified”

As children, we are sponges. We take on the beliefs and values of those we look up to, depend on, love or even fear. Some of these beliefs may serve us well, others do not.

Let me give a bizarre example. The Swiss are notoriously reluctant to talk about their achievements, skills and the good things they do; Americans are much less reluctant. Swiss teenagers are taught by their parents and teachers, for example, to avoid the pronoun “I” in a job application; they may miss out on job opportunities because they believe their abilities should simply be noticed rather than promoted. As an extreme, there are Swiss, particularly from the German part of Switzerland, who own Ferraris and Lamborghinis and they drive their cars only at night to avoid neighborhood gossip. Americans and others may not do so; they like their cars and do not mind showing them publicly.

So, what makes a person authentic? Living a life that corresponds to the person you believe yourself to be. You are you. You are not copying another person, you do not pretend to be something you are not, and you are transparent, and let people see who you are and who they are. You are authentic when your actions and words are congruent with your beliefs and values. There is no “should” in authentic.

Let me give you another example. I was brought up as a Catholic, went to church every Sunday. Going through my rebellious teenage years, I started to question it. In church my friend and his parents were at the front leading the singing with closed eyes. All I could see was the hypocrisy of my friend because I knew what he did the night before. I realized what worked for his parents and what did not work for my friend.

I can only recommend, take your time to reflect what is important to you, what resonates. What truly constitutes your belief system – this is vital . Without doing this, you are carrying around baggage that keeps you from finding your authentic self. Living authentically means that you constantly shift and take on new forms. This means that you must continually learn about yourself and others.

To close, I would like to quote Anna Omelchenko:

“Authenticity is ultimately about those qualities that show healthy non-defensive functioning and psychological maturity.”

Seven Qualities you should know if you want to be authentic:

  1. Have realistic perceptions of reality
  2. Accept other people as they are
  3. Be thoughtful
  4. Have a non-hostile sense of humor
  5. Express your emotions freely and clearly
  6. Be open and learn from mistakes
  7. Understand how to motivate

A true leader/manager should be able to check all the above.

By Markus Bucher