Quick, name three things about your authentic self. If you had to pause, you’re not alone. Many people actually answer initially by saying, “I don’t know what my authentic self is.”
I can help you with that. Your authentic self is the version that’s most true to your core strengths - the whole you, the integrated you. It’s an essential Get Shit Done (GSD) principle.
If you’re an extrovert, networking is a natural strength. So if you find yourself in a setting where you’re retreating from a room then you’ve got a clear sign that your authentic self is on snooze mode. When you’re not in line with your authentic self, you’re not going to be good - much less great - at the task at hand. (And you won’t have fun, either.)
At a business level, think of an organization’s authentic self as its mission. If it’s not coming to life in a meaningful way, the business (and everyone associated with it) will struggle. When I happened to tweet a picture about the crazy number of Zappos shipments I received and later some glowing comments about their culture, the Zappos recruiting team jumped on it and essentially said, “You should totally come work with us!” A small, telling example of how they’re being true to their core value of “Deliver WOW through customer service.”
For nonprofits, helping us see the world in a different way is often when their authentic self shines brightest. I’m a member of Glide, a renowned church in San Francisco that champions radical inclusiveness and social justice. Glide does NOT shy away from topics that at times makes some visitors, and me, a little uncomfortable. That’s a good thing. They’re being authentic.
Understanding your strengths, those of your team, and those of your entire company all serve to help you be your authentic self every day. When our authentic self shows up, we’re more apt to be engaged, to be productive, and to make a significant contribution.
Keep this all in mind the next time you’re facing a difficult decision, wrestling with an awkward dynamic, or choosing how to respond. Then ask yourself where your authentic self is in that conversation. For me, my authentic self is when I’m helping people overcome obstacles and get back on track.
I recently had coffee with a friend who shared highlights from a couple of super intense days she had - the kind of days that start early, end late, and involve interacting with different people in different situations. As we reviewed the techniques my friend used to stay present and engaged, she shared the following observation: "When I go as me, it's less tiring."
She brought her authentic self into the room!
Bringing our authentic self into the room is how we grow. It’s how we win. And it’s how we GSD without depleting all our energy.