Not gonna lie, for most of my career I never gave a single thought as to whether I was bringing my authentic self to work. Sure, it was nice to feel as though I could be me… but I had bigger fish to fry.
I had goals to hit, promotions to land and money to make. That was my focus.
That was until I attended a 2 day masterclass that introduced me to the world of coaching and changed my life. I was so drawn to the process of enabling women to discover their true path and follow their dreams that I decided to become a certified coach.
Through my year long certification I learned a ton. And one of the things I learned was the concept of the Authentic Self. And it changed me forever.
It made me re-think my career and relationships. I discovered situations and relationships in my life where I didn’t really feel I could be my full, authentic self. And once I started leaning into who that person was, I wanted to spend as much time in my authentic self as possible.
But why, as a woman who’s probably reading this newsletter to learn how to level up and thrive as a senior leader, should you even care about this concept?
The answer is, we are human first, leaders second. When you do the work on yourself, it allows you to show up as the leader you want to be. When you bring your full, authentic self to work and to your leadership style, you’re much more likely to show up as that leader.
So today, I’m going to share with you:
- What the authentic self is
- How you can discover and connect with your authentic self
- How this benefits your life and career
Let’s dive in.
What is the authentic self?
Your authentic self is much more than just dressing in your own unique style or not having a filter, think of it as the highest potential version of you. It’s the person you wish you were and want to be (spoiler alert: you’re already that person). The person you would ultimately be if you could take off the armour without fear of how others would react.
Often we wear metaphorical armour when we’re trying to protect ourselves from people’s judgements, and this can result in all kinds of behaviours like people pleasing, making ourselves small or not speaking up and using our voice. When you’re wearing your armour, you’re probably not showing up as our authentic self.
But the description that resonates most with me and many other women I work with is: the highest potential version of you. Ask yourself, how does that person show up in the world?
This is going to look differently for each of us and will be closely tied to your values and life principles.
And the best part is that person is already inside you just waiting for you to show up as her. Which you probably do some of the time… but no one does all of the time. When we’re triggered by emotions we tend to armour up and protect our authentic selves, and that’s totally normal.
But when we DO show up as our authentic selves, we feel differently. We feel great, empowered, in flow and joyful. There’s something that just feels so good about being our full, authentic selves.
Which brings me to the next topic:
How to rediscover your authentic self
She’s in there, you just have to let her out! And sadly, I’ve known people for years and wondered if I’ve ever even seen them in their authentic selves. Because on the surface, it’s all about materialism and boasting or putting others down and that, my friends, is not usually what the authentic self looks like.
I’m going to share an exercise with you that can help you rediscover your authentic self, and it involves asking yourself a series of reflection questions. If you can’t bang these out in 5 minutes, don’t worry! I’ve known people who had to think on these questions for weeks to really hone in on who their authentic self is, because for many of us, we’ve been hiding her.
You’ll see 2 columns on the page: Ego/Psyche and Authentic Self. It can be helpful to contrast the authentic self with the ego/psyche which is the the part of us who responds and acts out of fear. When we’re triggered by the rude comment of a colleague or left out of plans made my friends, we can slip into our ego. This is where we often engage in judgemental self-talk (“See, they don’t really like you”) or self-protective behaviours (eg. shutting down, getting snarky).
Take your time – these questions may take some time to work through.
Finally, you’ll notice at the bottom you’re asked to create a persona for your authentic self and your ego. This can be so powerful, because as you gain awareness into how you’re feeling in a given situation, it allows you to connect it to a persona and step outside the drama of your emotions.
If you picture your ego persona (let’s say for example it’s a scared child or animal), when these feelings pop up you can remind yourself this isn’t you, it’s just your ego reacting.
It can also help you reconnect with your authentic self. Sometimes when you visualize the persona of your authentic self, it can help you to realign with it more easily.
It may feel a little strange at first, but I encourage you to try it and get creative! This is just for you.
Benefits of showing up as your authentic self
There are so many benefits to showing up as your authentic self, in life and at work. Here are some:
- Boosts confidence
- Builds trust and loyalty
- Greater leadership influence
- Courage to follow your dreams
- Better relationships (and investing in the right relationships)
We can sense when someone is authentic, and it makes us trust and like them more. As a leader, this can help your influence both with peers and your reports. Think about the best leaders you’ve worked with – they probably came across as genuine, authentic people.
Leaning into your authentic self also makes you feel more confident, because you know who you are and what you stand for. This may result in going for that next promotion or starting the side hustle you’ve been thinking about for the last 5 years.
The last big benefit of this focus is that you’ll naturally start to pull away from relationships where you don’t feel comfortable showing up as your full, authentic self and investing in relationships where you do. This can have a huge impact on how you feel in life – when we get to spend more time being authentic, it just feels good!
I can honestly say that in this new phase of my career as an entrepreneur and coach, I’ve never felt more like my authentic self. This has given me a renewed energy and joy in life, and it’s something I want to help as many people as possible find for themselves.
I would love that for you.