Doppelgängers aside, no two people on earth are alike. In fact the odds of you being born are incredibly small – basically zero according to calculations offered by Dr. Ali Benazir. Knowing an original is worth far more than a copy, it is important to be our authentic self wherever we are. Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It a conscious choice made regarding how we want to show up in life. Doing so consistently takes practice and commitment.

Choose Authentic

Do you want to live inside a box or get out to dance on the lid or perhaps a bit farther afield? The choice is yours. We get to choose how we show up or if we show up at all. Committing to authenticity enables others to know you – what excites you, makes you happy or makes you sad. It  provides an avenue to build bridges and make real connections. This is important for establishing long term relationships and creating winning scenarios for yourself, your business and your community.

An opinion circulating for years portrays civil servants as bureaucrats offering technical objectivity, while failing to connect on a human level. For many in the public, they exist behind faceless anonymity.  Individual expectations of the service(s)provided differ greatly depending on the hat worn (citizen, business owner, entrepreneur, councillor, administrator). Perception paints them lacking authentic understanding of the needs and issues facing the public. Policy and guidelines lead to differing interpretations of their roles and ensuing interactions with the public.

Until I began public consultation work approximately 10 years ago,  I experienced marginal exchanges with elected officials and civil servants.  The work allowed me to connect and recognize the commitment by some of these individuals to build stronger, better community. My personal experience is that not all elected officials or bureaucrats show up as their authentic selves. At times party politics or policy hinder this. Other times individuals lack the people skills (soft skills) necessary to be real during exchanges. This leads to failure in establishing good working relationships with the public and/or their associates.  Many remain unaware of their own ability to create success not only for themselves but for others.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

“Whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right” according to Henry Ford.  Self reflection increases awareness. It allows us to understand the choices we are making about who and what we are and who and what we want to be in the future. It creates an opportunity to change our choices.  Why do we fail to change if we know it is beneficial to our success both personally and professionally? Perhaps because of the stories we are telling ourselves. We remain the single greatest influence for our own success.

Being authentic, not thinking about what or how to be, increases your ability to hear and identify underlying issues and address “real” concerns.  It is the beginning of building trust, which is needed globally in public interactions with elected officials and bureaucrats. Repeatedly saying “Trust me” does not establish trust. Neither does the phrase “Believe me.” Trust is belief without religion. Trust is looking at someone and knowing and then feeling they have your best interests at heart. Imagine the difference moving forward if elected officials and bureaucrats connected authentically without agendas aligning integrity and actions. 

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Increasingly companies express points of view on current cultural or political issues. According to a 2014 study, around 75% of millennials believe businesses should share a point of view about issues and influence others to get involved in an issue. But people, especially younger people, can smell fakeness a mile away – and they aren’t afraid to call anyone out on it. If a business develops and expresses such views, it must follow through on that point of view in a real, authentic way. Audi highlighted gender equality in a 2016 commercial. To build trusting relationships with their audience, they need to commit to demonstrating how it works it works within their organization.

Being authentic is also important for politicians and political parties. Providing critical commentary but failing to demonstrate the ability to provide a viable alternative does not establish relationships or trust in a system increasingly under attack. Instead of creating news, it is important they begin to understand the “real” concerns of the public, which are as unique and diverse as each of us.

Article originally published in The Newsy Neighbour – April 2017