Be your authentic self (erm, how do I do that?!)

  • “We need to lean in”
  • “Be your authentic self”
  • “Be yourself”
  • “Don’t apologise for who you are”
  • ‘Love yourself”

We have all come across these types of statement, haven’t we? They keep cropping up in my life, they have been for about a year now. In fact, as I applied for promotion in a previous role a mentor at work said to me –

We know you’re capable, but stop being who you think we want you to be and be yourself.

Finding my voice

I couldn’t make head nor tail of the advice for ages. I thought I was being myself. The universe had other ideas and that comment catalysed something in me; it ate away at me over a number of months. I discussed it with Tracey, my coach  and she asked me

What are your assumptions about yourself?

After much deliberation, I realised I was frightened. I was frightened that if I were myself that people wouldn’t ‘like’ me, that they wouldn’t respect me and they wouldn’t believe in me. I was also worried that they would be threatened by my ideas, my confidence and success, no-one likes a show-off right? and so I played it down. Trouble was, it was causing issues for me because I was feeling a disconnect with what I was doing at home (where I was totally being myself and parenting against the flow but feeling completely at peace with it and work where I was tense, disconnected and lost) I had to sort it out. So I made a decision to change.

I went to Workfest 2015, I had 8 months of coaching, I made some big changes like having another baby and embarking on a coaching qualification. I read widely and allowed myself to believe that if I were authentic then things could change. (What I now know as double loop learning.)

Being authentic

Slowly, slowly change occurred. The word authentic KEPT appearing and so for 2016 I decided that it would be the year I would be myself and those who didn’t like me, that was OK. I decided to take some tips from my home life, where I use my gut instinct, where I wear my heart on my sleeve and apply it to my work life. So here I am, telling you all this.

The trick is accepting yourself and not apologising for who you are or want to be. Easy, right? Er, no. For me that meant embracing the more alternative ways of working, those that are a bit more ‘woo’ as my friend Sophie would say and be confident that there will be people who subscribe to my style. It is important for me to acknowledge that there will be others who don’t and that’s OK too. You can’t please everyone. Crucially for me, I had to acknowledge that some people would be challenged by my ideas and success and that is a good thing, any negativity is on them, not me. Others would be inspired by me and make a change for themselves.

This is me

I am living authentically, surrounding myself with people who will hold me accountable. I’m standing up for what I believe is right, I’m telling people that I’m into ‘woo’, I’m showing up and working hard and I’m doing it loud and proud. *caveat and confession: 90% of the time! (It’s hard and frequently I have to have  a word with myself but those moments are becoming less frequent as I feel more comfortable and confident.)

So here I stand, as:

  • An unapologetic optimist who uses visualisations, affirmations, intentions, mediation personally and professionally. Who believes if you can dream it, it can happen but you have to be open to it happening differently than you’ve planned!
  • A woman who believes that we need to empower our peers not pull them down, that we should challenge the status quo and learn for ourselves, not follow the crowd.
  • A gentle and empathetic soul who believes that listening and storytelling is key to living and passing long-forgotten wisdom and tradition through the generations.
  • A person who feels deeply, defends fiercely and works instinctively and is ready to challenge you and be challenged by you, to inspire you and help you change.
  • A collaborator who loves to share and work together. I’m willing to share my experiences and knowledge, all you need to do is ask.

Who are you?

My challenge to you today is to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I ready to make a change? (If the answer is no, stop reading now.)
  2. Who am I when no one is watching?
  3. Am I *really* being authentic in all aspects of my life?
  4. What does being authentic mean to me?
  5. What are you assuming about yourself?

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