Authenticity. What's it mean, beyond the buzzword?

In life, business, relationships, whether publicly or in private solitude, authenticity uses far less energy.  Being authentic, being true to oneself, is not an excuse to be viscious and call it honesty.  It is not finally standing up for ourselves in an unfair situation and "getting it off of our chest", either.  These are examples of actions or reactions, which may reflect our true thoughts or emotions in one snapshot of time.  Those moments are important, yes, because they reveal issues that affect us adversely so that we can address them, or boundaries that have been violated that we need to reinstate.  Those snapshots are not, however, who you are inherently.  

What is authenticity

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Authenticity is the quality of being authentic.  Being authentic, truly, is not a series of behaviours you become known for, but a way of being that is natural to, and energizing for, you.  I, personally, add, whether anyone else sees it or not.  Dictionary.com defines "authentic" as: 

  1. E.g. antiques, "not false or copied; genuine; real".

  2. E.g. document, work, "having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified".

  3. E.g. voice, speech, "representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified" .

There are other definitions, but these are the most commonly referenced.  I know.  We're trained to measure everything by the external consensus (definition #2) - unless the someone external approves or sees it, it isn't real.  Well, I'd like to invite you to consider definition #3,  "true to oneself"

What is true to you about you?

Have you ever spent enough time alone to really understand: 

  • What you believe?

  • Why you believe those things?

  • Of those beliefs, what's truly yours - I mean, what really sits well within?

  • Of those beliefs, what truly serves you well now?

  • From there, what's your vision for this life? Beyond just work or charity? Is there fun, awe, a fire to discover?

  • Are you focused on running other people's lives (influencing), or taking charge of your own life, leading by example and honouring everyone's free will in leading their own lives?

Many fret about how the media is making us focus on the negatives.  Many blame social media for anxiety and depression.  Then, however, in the same breath, those same folks embrace  "busy-ness"  as the mark of true productivity; as evidence that one is of value to the world.  I invite you to consider this - we all have the opportunity to choose what we let in.  We fear the opportunity cost of not keeping up with the news, social media and the respect that comes with being busy, but why isn't our sanity, creativity and true focused productivity not worth it?  What is truly important to you, if no one was going to call you uninformed, lazy or weak for it? 

The unspoken opportunity cost

Another benefit of slowing down enough to be mindful is to expand your observation of each moment, through a less filtered lens.  That means two (2) things.  You start seeing the beauty of people exactly as they are - their light, shadow, beauty, bounty and lack - and the unique way they make the world what it is, because you no longer need to change them.  You absorb far more of what's unfolding in your own moments in life, because your mind is no longer on that last social media post or work e-mail.  

I am not writing all of this on some high horse, or on a mountaintop retreat far away from temptation.  I'm writing this tired, with a sleeping baby on my lap, facing a business that's changing again. Still, I am smiling because I've come a long way from being the person who was so driven, before my burn out, dented skull and adrenal fatigue, that I even had to be first off the train, up the stairs and across the street.  I was the girl who thought information was power and I'd have to be crazy to not want to know everything.  I had to be the dancer, ecologist, consultant, MBA, speaker, etcetera, all at once.  I get it.  It took me six (6) years to get here, and yet I know I'll still be learning and expanding for years to come.  

When I finally slowed down enough, myself, I actually realized that authenticity is not about anyone else.  I thought I didn't compare myself to others because no one else was the standard I was aiming for.  I had my own standards shaped by paralyzing perfectionism that could 'definitely' achieve my intrinsic goals without upsetting anyone else in the world.  That was until I realized that having to be first still meant I was looking around.  To me, competing and comparing aren't all that different.  They both keep you distracted from your goals, your vision.  In life, in business and in relationships.   

The unspoken opportunity cost is this: as long as you're investing energy in trying to change, influence or outshine anyone else, in even wondering what others think, you're not going to get all the lovely juice out of any moment in life. 

It hit me one day... 

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  "Nostalgia is the recognition of the magic of a moment only after it has passed, because we weren't truly present enough in that moment as it happened." --- Crystal-Marie Sealy. 

Do you find yourself thinking too often, "I wish I could live that again"?  You know what I mean.

  • That Bali vacation you went on when, even on that beautiful beach, you couldn't stop fretting about work.

  • That moment (and I'm right there with you) when you were worrying about what you didn't do right for your baby that day, and forgot to pay attention to that precious face asleep in your arms - that face that will change in 3 days and never look like that again.

  • The business victories you just cannot celebrate because you didn't get them all.

You have more recent, more relevant examples, right now, in your own lives.  We can't get all the juice all the time, but we can get it far  more often than we do.  

The right opportunities for You

I'm not highlighting this to feed your fears.  I'm hoping that this is an invitation to drop the balls you're juggling, for a moment.  Let them fall, bouncing or crashing, and let go of trying to control what happens.  Just go within.  Breathe.  Take the perspective for a second that all that is is fine - no judgement.  It just is.  Now.  If you were totally free.  What pieces would you pick up, and which would you throw away? 

Choose one (1) thing to pick up and one to throw away.  If no one could see, what would you choose?  The answer is a good start to figuring out what matters to you.  If you could give yourself a few minutes a day - on your run, your lunch break, your commute home - to daydream.  What is true to you? 

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Crystal-Marie Sealy, MBA, is a keynote speaker and entrepreneurial strategy consultant focused on sustainable business models for established entrepreneurs and professionals transitioning to entrepreneurship. President and founder of Successiory and her signature "Mindful Entrepreneurship. Your E.A.S.Y. Affluence Business Model™ by Successiory", Crystal-Marie works with professionals who want to build sustainable (livable) business models around their lifestyles and create sustainable client community on social media. She also speaks and delivers workshops at business and motivational conferences on authenticity, entrepreneurial strategy for pricing, process, feasible schedules and client social media community. Connect with her and subscribe at www.successiory.ca

Crystal-Marie S

(2016-Aug-18) On paper, my career began in 2001, spans Successiory (2009), my MBA from the Schulich School of Business (2010), two countries and several industries, including business strategy, social media consulting, environmental and engineering consulting, higher education and more (see LinkedIn). 

In 2015, I was nominated for Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP) Awards,Entrepreneur of the Year and became an Amazon.ca bestseller on August 9th 2015. I spoke at 12 events in 2015 alone, including several GroYourBiz Advisory Boards, Bank of Montreal (paid), Iler Campbell’s Tools Conference and Toronto Public Libraries’ Small Business (sometimes paid) series. I think I love speaking!

On a personal note, I'm an MBA, entrepreneur, millennial, dancer, author and so much more yet, like you, I don't fit the stereotypes. After years of workaholism and the health and relationship losses that go with that lifestyle, I've stopped 'paying lip service' to terms like authenticity, self care and sustainability. My health scare pushed me into living them. Here's hoping I can inspire you to live and work better without learning the hard way. Welcome. Still curious? More here... www.successiory.ca/crystal-marie

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