Here’s an idea that might be slowing you down. Do you ever think to yourself, “I can’t try that, it’s already been done before! I need to find something new to show, something that’s never been done before, something that has never been seen before.”
This is the inner voice trying to please others, trying to fit in, get invited to the party. The truth is that authenticity creates stronger human and emotional bonds. And while being authentically yourself is closer and easier to access, it is also sometimes more difficult to reveal. Authenticity is scary, but it’s ultimately the most honest and sincere way to connect with people in the world.
The myth about vulnerability and honesty is that it’s a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite.
Recently the elder, transgender, comedian Julia Scotti brought down the house on America’s Got Talent and received a standing ovation. Judge Howie Mandel gushed, “You’re funny, you’re talented, and you’re brave, and I am so glad we got to see you.” She was amazing by being unapologetically herself.
Contrast that with the America’s Got Talent routine of Gary Sladek and “Broadway” Jim. Their first appearance featured an astonishing feat of scaling a towering stack of carefully balanced chairs. The act was daring and human. They were invited back on the show.
Their follow up appearance was an absurb and chaotic skit which involved them tumbling around a trampoline in goofy clown outfits. It was so bad, when they finished the audience sat quietly dumbfounded at their ridiculous antics. It was clear they were reaching for originality, and it fell flat because they were so obviously trying to be something they were not, trying to be someone else for the judges. In that instance, Gary and Jim were performing not for themselves, not to advance their act or their skill but instead performing simply for approval.
Here’s a secret: the greatest performers, writers, musicians, and artists create the work that they love, not the work that they think others will love.
I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.
– Brené Brown
Our culture is shifting quietly away from identifying people as representative of a particular demographic, and instead respecting and appreciating the unique and varied experiences they may have had, shifting away from tolerance and acceptance and instead toward a culture of connection, shifting away from a sense of fair opportunity, and moving toward recognizing contribution to business impact.
And the best way to connect, and make an impact, is to share who you authentically are with the world.
To learn more about finding your authentic self, and adopting a growth mindset see:
- Steve Shapiro on Out-Innovate the Competition
- Marilee Adams on Question Thinking: The Key to Transforming Mindsets
- You might enjoy this related article
- Join my Email updates for more realistic optimism
- Learn more about my Speaking work
Shawn Hunter is President and Founder of Mindscaling, a company building beautiful online learning courses based on the work of best-selling authors. My new book Small Acts of Leadership, (Bibliomotion) will be out in October, 2016. You can pre-order a copy now.