By Barton Tanner
I want to revisit the world of authenticity today. This is a word that I throw around a lot in my life and a concept that we are all, directly or indirectly, engaging with every day. Authenticity is where we get all our power, freedom and self-expression in life. It allows the development of true connection with those in your life and the ability to stand for yourself and your success. But authenticity and inauthenticity is very much like the loch-ness monster. It is something you hear about in fairy tales but ultimately struggle to find in reality. Essentially, the easiest way to find real authenticity is to develop the capacity to acknowledge where in your life you are being inauthentic. Put simply, where in your life do you not have your desired results. Generally, this is the best place to start to look for inauthenticity.
I will put a disclaimer in here. It is not ‘Good’ (authentic) vs ‘Bad’ (inauthentic). It is more about looking at your life and going to work at what is not working. One of the analogies I love to use, is that of a dance party. If you’re hosting a dance party and you have 100 people there all on the dance floor, this would be considered an awesome party. It could be easy to sit back and pat yourself on the back as you have the desired result. But imagine you haven’t got any ice in the esky for drinks. If I am to walk in and say “this is a great party, but where is the ice?” The first response will generally be – “piss off, there’s 100 people on the dance floor and you’re asking about ice”. I can’t floor this response, but in the world of finding your inauthenticity, I think it is important to not be afraid to go to work at what is not working.
I would liken this response in the above analogy to that of someone who is on the court for a tennis match compared to those in the crowd. It is actually quite amusing when you start to look at how spectators behave in sport. They scream and shout, they challenge decisions, call players all sorts of names and sometimes even cry from an emotional connection to the loss of their team. But really, spectators have absolutely no capacity to change the result of a game. No matter how much you cheer and shout, your shouting has no impact on the game. The only people who can impact on the game are those on the courts. Sometimes your insults may emotionally affect the players or distract them, but that is on the player not you. It is great for a spectator on the stands really, you have no risk, nothing to lose and can ALWAYS be right (he should have passed the ball when I said). There is a definite advantage to sitting in the stands sometimes, for example as a coach. You can see where some flaws are or where improvements can be made. But at the end of the day, you are in the stands. This is how people live their lives when they are not chasing authenticity. They are very good at analysing where others are falling short, but are often not on the courts, playing the game of their own life. Results can only happen on the court. So like authenticity, if you don’t have results in certain parts of your life, start to think about how you are engaging with the situations. Are you looking at it as if you’re on the court playing the game or are you watching things happen to you?
All of this is about adding to your toolkit. If you are not continually checking in and chasing authenticity for yourself in your training, it will translate into all other aspects of your life. When things in life happen, it is important to have the right tools to approach situations. I think the most important principles to remember are:
- Without exception, you are whole, complete and perfect! There is nothing wrong with you. I often speak about this in relation to self-esteem, but people are so harsh on themselves. The barriers and roadblocks in your way are not negative, they just are. It is now your choice on how to hold them.
- That which you resist about yourself, persists about yourself! If you spend too much time resisting a problem or thing that you are trying to change, it will dig its heels in. Stop resisting and have a look at where you are being inauthentic. By identifying this, the problem will generally just fall away or your next actions will make it seem so insignificant.
- Don’t waste time trying to look good for others and avoiding looking bad. We fear saying things or acting because of how others will interpret what we do. Just remember, Martin Luther King Jr didn’t need you to agree with his cause and what he stood for. He simply stood for it, took the next action and watched the world change around him!
Lastly, remember that authenticity is a muscle. Like our Gluteus, we have to continually engage and challenge the muscle of authenticity if you want to get better function from it. Everything you want always lives outside your comfort zone. So, get to work on your muscle of authenticity and remember the words of Aristotle;
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”