It was my wedding anniversary yesterday and as my wife and I were both in London on business, we decided to make a night of it, take in a show and have dinner in town.
Well I say show! That was how my wife described it when she booked but I quickly found out that I was attending a ‘smartwomen’ event run by Red Magazine. So for 90 minutes I, along with another 4/5 guys sat with over 200 women talking about what it means to build a successful brand.
It was fascinating!
The discussion included a number of very successful business women, two of which had built a brand based around themselves, another had reinvigorated an established fading brand.
The thing that struck me the most, especially from the two who were in fact their own brands, was the fact that they continually referred to the need to be authentic, authentic to their beliefs, authentic to their vision and authentic to themselves in the face of massive challenge.
It made me reflect on my life to date and to question how authentic I’ve been over the last 40 years or so. I quickly realised that the times when I’ve been most successful have been the times when I have been very clear about my vision and have maintained an absolute focus on delivering that vision. However, there is also an absolute correlation with the periods of my life where this vision has reflected my core values and beliefs.
Should I be surprised?
I think not. In effect, what my period of reflection made me realised is that success is intricately linked to your ability to be true to yourself, to be authentic.
When I’ve moved away from this position, chased the dollar or failed to persevere with the original plan and adapt to short term opportunities, I’ve been hit some of my most significant failures.
I think that it is easier to be authentic as you get older. You tend to grow into your body and become more comfortable with being the person you are. When you are younger, there is a tendency to follow the crowd, take up the latest fad to fit in and constantly question yourself and your skills.
However, on reflection, I think that even in these formative years, you know within yourself whether you are being true to yourself. You know whether you are doing something because you believe in something or because you want to be seen to be doing something. Call it intuition or a gut feeling, you know! Don’t you?
What happens when you take this route, when you go down a path that you are not 100% comfortable with? Well in my experience, you don’t give it your all. You hold back, look for third party endorsement or support and this lack of commitment comes back and bites you. Something holds you back. Again, that gut feeling rears up.
The result. You don’t perform at your best and you ultimately end up feeling lost, uncomfortable, maybe in a job or relationship that you don’t find fulfilling. Certainly feeling that something is missing in your life.
So, the challenge to us all is to stop and reflect by asking yourself, ‘am I being authentic? Am I being true to myself, to my beliefs and values?’
If the answer is yes, go for it and give it all that you’ve got. I’m not saying that you are guaranteed success but you will ultimately feel fulfilled by being you and you’ll learn so much more about yourself that you can continue to apply in the future.
If the answer is no, then ask yourself when you stopped being authentic? Ask yourself, how have you moved away from your core beliefs, what are you compromising at the moment by doing so? Then you need to think about your core beliefs. What do you want to stand for? What are your principles? How can you adapt your present situation to be more aligned to your principles?
Personally, I know that from a very early age, I felt the need to help others, to support them in times of need and to guide them along their chosen path. However, I started my career in banking, did really well and to be fair enjoyed what I was doing. The more senior I became though, made me realise that the influence that I could have on others was in fact reducing as I moved further and further away from the front line. More frustratingly, as I moved up the career ladder, it became obvious that decisions were being taken for ‘political’ reasons rather than what’s best for the individual involved.
Anyone who is or has worked in the corporate world will know what I’m talking about.
It was at that point that I realised, probably for the first time, that I wasn’t being authentic to myself and I decided to pack it all in and move into consultancy, where I could choose the clients that I worked with and focus purely on delivering value.
More recently, I’ve again reflected on my core values and realised that although I have been achieving success in one part of my life, it has been at the expense of others. This realisation that I’d again started to move away from my authentic self was the catalyst for the launch of All About Success. I want to Be INSPIRED and want to help others to Be INSPIRED as they go through their life, to be the best that they can be, in life, in business, in their career, in their relationships.
I know that I’m now my authentic self.
What will it take you to be authentic to yourself?
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