“Be true to who you are.”
Who isn’t familiar with this line? We’ve been told over and over about being true to ourselves – from Cyndi Lauper inspiring us to let our true colors shine through to Jessie J reminding us not to lose our mind on a tiny error.
Why fit in when you can stand out?
We are powerful beyond measure.
Each person is unique and that uniqueness is a gift that should be nurtured.
But admit it or not, it’s hard to simply be true to ourselves. It takes a lot of courage and self-motivation to embrace our individuality.
Why? Because we’re too concerned of what others might speak of us. We’re afraid others might judge us for being different or doing things outside the norm.
Coaches, can you relate?
Image management is a hard “habit” to break, especially as we grow older. I mean, who doesn’t want to look good in front of their peers?
But if we’re able to exhaust our energy over managing our external image, why can’t we shift that energy to things that truly mattered instead – like changing our mindset and perspective?
Like our favourite school teachers when we were growing up, we coaches should also lead by example.
If people see that we’re true to our words and actions, it builds trust, and trust leads to healthy relationships.
We’ve all been inspired by that one teacher back at school, who’s showed us his or her authentic self, who constantly reminded us that we can all learn from our mistakes, and who has shared with us personal stories that we can learn from.
That kind of teacher is who you want to be as a coach – a teacher who leads with authenticity.
“If people see that we’re true to our words and actions, it builds trust and trust leads to healthy relationships.”
Leading with a genuine story is important in every aspect of life. Our ancestors learned through storytelling. It is through storytelling, we connect, learn important life lessons, and share common experience.
Storytelling has forever been ingrained into our psyche. So before you go and say you don’t have the confidence to show your authentic self or your fear of being judged for being yourself starts to eat you, please consider why you must take the big leap and lead with authenticity.
1. Your Story Shapes Who You Are
Why are you here? Why do people come to you for help?
The way you weave your story defines the very reason why you exist. If you told a story that was solely focused on making money, if all you talk about in your story or in your page is $$$, do you think people will still trust your brand?
Nope, I didn’t think so either.
People will only see a money-hungry monster in you and that’s enough reason for them to run in the other direction.
However, as you tell your authentic story, you may also discover a lot of things about yourself. Things you may have forgotten about in the past. Things that forged your journey and made you who you are today.
How you tell your stories or what you choose to share with others offers them a glimpse of your character and true nature. Your audience and your prospects would start to feel a connection to you. They will start to know, like and trust you.
Notice how TEDx talks are incredibly inspiring and appealing? That’s because the stories we listen to are crafted in their most genuine and unique forms. And these authentic stories are built by people who value authenticity.
As you tell your authentic story, you may also discover a lot of things about yourself.
2. Authenticity Fosters Innovation and Collaboration
People want someone who’s not afraid to engage with others and show their vulnerabilities.
When you exhibit self-confidence, optimism, and acceptance – all of which encompass an authentic behavior, people feel less likely threatened and become more comfortable to share their own creative and unique ideas and thoughts.
People want someone who’s not afraid to get themselves out of their comfort zone. Someone who’s not afraid of being judged or belittled. Being an authentic leader encourages others to be more courageous to speak their truth, be more self-confident and proactive.
3. Empathy is Your Best Business Asset
Great brands are great not just because of the technical features of their product or service, they’re great because they identify with people – from pain to pleasure, struggle to success.
Take Apple for example. Why do you think people love the brand?
Empathy plays a big role in Apple’s culture. They highly value their employees’ and customers’ needs.
When you show people that you truly understand them and you’re able to share your experiences with them, it builds trust and strengthens your business.
4. The More You Fake It, the More You Hurt Yourself
In the age of hyperconnectivity, social media and the Internet, it only takes one Google search to find out if something is true or not.
You can’t simply fool anyone anymore (not even a grade schooler!).
People will lose their trust in you and it could ruin the relationship you’ve already built with them.
When we fake it, we deprive ourselves the ability to live in the moment because we’re too busy showing a curated side of us, heavily editing our perceived reality or looking and behaving “correctly”.
The more we fake it, the more it becomes difficult to keep up with this fake facade, self-sensored identity or persona that we’ve created for ourselves.
What started off as a harmless little white lie with innocent origins, we end up spending way more time and energy to constantly cover up. It’s mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting.
“When we fake it, we deprive ourselves the ability to live in the moment”.
5. Deeper Connections Build Sustainable Relationships
Great brands have great stories.
Having an authentic brand story allows us to connect to others beyond the surface level.
When people relate to our stories, it creates a sense of trust and deep connection. When we tell our story in the most genuine way, it reflects our core values, passion and awareness towards others.
People will remember how your story made them feel and that’s how it all starts. The moment we’re able to touch the hearts of people because of our authenticity, we’re already establishing a unique relationship with people.
“People will remember how your story made them feel.”
6. Being Authentic is Empowering
When leaders are honest about their pains and struggles, when they show the world their authentic selves, it empowers others to bravely front up to their own struggles in life as well.
From Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala Yousafzai to Lady Gaga, these iconic people have touched and inspired so many lives because of their authenticity and the way they’ve dealt with some of the most pressing issues of their generations.
Authenticity goes beyond inspiring and touching others’ lives. Authenticity drives people towards a positive direction and leads people to move forward. It creates communities where people can thrive and lead more meaningful lives.
“Authenticity drives people towards a positive direction and leads people to move forward.”
So to sum it up, it pays to show up more authentically as a coach, because we are all looking for that one role model that leads by example, demonstrates leadership through vulnerability, and challenges us to grow into our full potential.
I hope that after reading this post, I’ve somehow helped you erase your doubts and fears and finally muster the courage to be true to yourself.
What resonated with you the most? Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic. I’d love to know what you have in mind.