“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde
The exceptional person in our world says exactly what they are thinking in any given situation. All of us know at least one person who rarely holds back their thoughts. They stand out.
Such a ‘stand out’ is my wife Carol, known by our children and me as someone who “speaks her mind.” Some in our extended family would call it frank speech.
While there are times I wish Carol would hold back a few words (sometimes a sentence or two), I also appreciate her honesty. She is one of the editors of this newsletter. More than a few times, when unimpressed with what I wrote, she did not hold back her viewpoint. Her honest commentary, on numerous occasions, enabled and inspired me to successfully create some of the better newsletter editions – based on the feedback from my readers.
Timing is important. Sometimes, saying nothing is wiser than saying everything racing through our minds. I believe also that honesty makes a real difference. In our closest relationships, truthfulness may be the deciding factor in the ultimate success or failure within those important alliances. Have you ever had a relationship that failed because of a lack of honesty? Or, do you know a family member or friend where lack of trust became the eventual and predictable downfall in a key association?
How important is genuineness? Oprah Winfrey once said, “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” While Oprah’s reference focused on rich in the sense of financial well-being, there is also a richness created from the kind of authenticity that is centered in relationships and life principles.
Researchers, in the field of psychology, have studied authenticity over many decades. Not surprising to me is the discovery of some negative outcomes for people who live dishonest lives. You might say there is a lack of richness. They found that when people behave without authenticity, they have an elevated level of discomfort. Our brains know when we are living a lie. And living a lie may be a detour away from the main path of success.
How do I change? Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, gives us a clue. Relying on authenticity research, he answers this question in his publication, 10 Unmistakable Habits of Utterly Authentic People. Three of the 10 principles are:
Authentic people let go of negative people. It is not out of anger at the other person but out of their own internal respect. They do not try to go along to get along. They are willing to live with the consequence of their honesty.
Authentic people are confident. That confidence develops and increases because of their honesty. They do not worry about being found out, because they are not hiding anything in the first place. They are who they appear to be.
Authentic people are not complainers. This internal reflection is a result of accountability. They own their own lives. They believe in responsibility for what happens. Complaints often arise when we think that others are to blame for what happens to us.
When I first read Bradberry’s article, I was struck by the similarities in his suggestions and those of leadership and success authors. My simple conclusion is that being authentic is a life success principle.
And, life principles always work. These timeless doctrines are akin to scientific laws. We can depend on their outcomes. As you adopt and maintain your personal success strategy for life, be sure to build your tactics and best practices on proven principles that work. A platform, built on a few essential truths, like authenticity, is the same as purchasing an insurance policy for successful living.
Dr. Bradberry concludes, “Living authentically is a perpetual challenge that yields great rewards. It’s a noble path that you won’t regret following.”
But, being real can be a little scary, right? Yes, that is true. And, if I take a risk, I want to know that it will matter . . . right? Margery Williams, in her classic The Velveteen Rabbit, addressed these concerns, writing about a conversation between the child’s favorite toys, the rabbit and stick horse. The rabbit asked about being real. The stick horse replied:
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
‘Being real’ is probably not on everyone’s legacy list on how they want to be remembered by others. Yet, ironically, it turns out that the legacy we most want to leave – the one that we know in our heart at its deepest level – is going to be built on a solid platform of authenticity.
Today . . .
I choose to be real.
Authenticity is my platform for success.
I will become the best me that I was always meant to be.
The best version of myself is real success that lasts.