The first sentence in my website says “I help you build the right message and communicate it from your authenticity”. I changed it recently, to give “authenticity” a central role after I observed that most of my customers seemed to share a growing desire to find their own voice and start communicating from there. Let me illustrate this with four stories (names are fictitious).
Martha is a woman set for success: a bright young lady, well-educated in excellent universities and building a promising career. And yet she calls me to discuss if I can help to focus and communicate her purpose in life, because she feels that something important is missing. During our sessions she openly admits the feeling of not being her complete-self in her current job, and how she senses that this hinders the expression of her authenticity so she wants to do something about it. She’s still under 30, and yet she is already determined to not live a life where she cannot be fully herself. Touché…
(Note: this young people of today, I think we really have some things to learn from them!).
Or the case of Julio, who is struggling with designers and copywriters because he wants his brand to communicate authentic messages, related to the business offering but also to his most personal values. He calls me for help because he does not want fake communication anymore; he wants to make sure that he connects with what his brand is communicating to the world, expressing his honest vision and his desire to bring authentic value to customers. Laura is a top-of-the-class medical doctor and researcher in cancer. She contacted for help with an important speech she had, but our friendship is growing so our conversations are getting more personal. She is also young and bright, has built a brilliant career and can grow limitless in her field, and yet she shares with me her wishes for a higher purpose where she can truly help others. She feels that her authentic-self is not yet expressed to its potential until she develops that purpose. And there it shows again: authenticity claiming to be heard!
Laura is a top-of-the-class medical doctor and researcher in cancer. She contacted for help with an important speech she had, but our friendship is growing so our conversations are getting more personal. She is also young and bright, has built a brilliant career and can grow limitless in her field, and yet she shares with me her wishes for a higher purpose where she can truly help others. She feels that her authentic-self is not yet expressed to its potential until she develops that purpose. And there it shows again: authenticity claiming to be heard!
It can take simpler forms, as well, like in the story of Mark, who called me up after he’d given the keynote we’d been preparing and told me “Irene, it went really well, I enjoyed, I put in practice many of the things you taught me, but in the end I gave it my own flavor, you know me…”. Wonderful! I love it when customers feel this freedom of adding their own way of doing. Authenticity is one of the best communication strategies to connect with audiences.
The relevant idea here is: the perception that most people I work with seem to have agreed to start their particular quest for authenticity has reached a point that transcends the particular to slowly grow into the global. To me, these are very good news, and they need to be shared. I will leave aside the analysis on the why this is happening.
Let me recall here the sharp words of E. E. Cummings on the courage to be yourself and how hard it can get: “To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” Wow! I think the fact that more and more people are finding the courage to start that battle is quite inspiring.
Let’s dig a little on the meaning of being authentic. I am rather “old school” for many things, like when I need to understand a concept and I go to paper and digital dictionaries in different languages to grasp a more holistic meaning of a word. This time the task is easy: authenticity is the quality of being authentic, and this is the case in the English, Spanish, Catalan and Italian dictionaries I visit.
Thus, the definition of authenticity is in the adjective “authentic”: from late Latin authentĭcus, and this from ancient Greek authentikós, originally meaning “with authority” and again derived from authéntēs, which means “able to act by himself, the absolute master”.
This is getting interesting, isn’t it? The absolute master. We sure like that.
In more modern entries, the different dictionaries agree on defining “authentic” as “not false or fake”, and also as “consistent with himself, that appears as it is”. Now, the Catalan dictionary includes a philosophical definition which I absolutely adore and fits the purpose very well: “term applied to human existence by some philosophers to designate the character of a person when he becomes what he truly and radically is”.
I am mesmerized. There it is, where it has always been! Of course, Greek philosophers knew it already: being authentic is mainly to express as it is the authority that comes from within, from being who you are truly and radically. Touché again!
Let me share something else which is relevant to the subject, no matter how obvious it may sound: authenticity starts by knowing yourself as good as possible, knowing your own difference, your own diversity, and accepting it fully so that it can be shared with the world without useless insecurities.
Of course, I am fully aware that finding and freely expressing that inner voice that makes you absolutely unique in the world is not easy for 99% of the population. There is also that 1% that was born with the capacity to not care about others’ opinions and go around being their true selves. The rest of us, let’s be honest, we do our best as we grow and walk along a path that can be treacherous. Or at least, this is true for the old fogeys like me. The young ones know better, as I am witnessing.
Getting personal here, it was no different for me, being myself part of that 99% of hopeful souls. The good news: as in any heroes’ journey, I could count on fairies and mentors and wise men to help me. Well actually, in my case, it is a wise woman, Dr. Ester Torrella, who some years ago facilitated my own path to authenticity. She invited me to first contact with the ancestral knowledge about the 4 typologies and then start understanding where my singularity was grounded and which was my starting point in life.
Her knowledge and work on this subject are gigantic, therefor I am only grateful that for almost 10 years now, I have the chance to share with her the continuous advancements on authenticity, singularity and diversity that we can then teach to others so they can also bring their own potential to its maximum expression. You will find more on this issue and how we apply it to the areas of health, education and communication in our Association “A starting point” website.
To finalize: like for me and for my brave customers, setting out on your quest for authenticity means to start a long-term journey full of unexpected treasures and dangers. But do not be dismayed. You are not alone, as it seems that many are taking the same steps you are taking to be their true selves. And as Marianne Williamson once wrote: “…as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. Wait and see. And all the best for the journey!