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Authenticity is overrated.

February 2024


Stop trying to be authentic.


You already are.


We're encouraged so often to be authentic these days, that it is no surprise we sometimes catch ourselves asking:


Am I being authentic?


It's a question shaded with more than a hint of anxiety.


As if to be anything else might signify dishonesty or lack of maturity.


In a recent conversation I was asked how a person might know if they were being authentic.


The only possible answer to that question is:


What do you mean when you say ‘authentic’?


Sometimes we mean ‘being real’.


Acting in a way that reflects what’s going on inside.


Which, whilst great in theory, is problematic.


There are times when we can be less than honest.


And still remain authentic.


Laughing at a joke we don’t find funny, for instance.


Not very honest.


But still, consistent with our values – in this case, preferring to be kind at the expense of complete honesty.


Is that being authentic?


I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told, in all seriousness, what authenticity REALLY is.


As if such a definition were even possible.


Because, however you behave, it’s YOU that’s doing the behaving.


As such, you couldn’t be more authentic if you tried.


You may not like certain things about yourself.


You may wish you behaved differently.


Or that you could stop hiding who you really are.


But that’s you. 


And it’s about as real as it’s gonna get.


So, don’t worry about being authentic.


Everything you say is you – even when you’re pretending.


And it’s all pretending.


Which is why, when you talk, I don't listen.


I mean, I do. But I prefer to watch.


As I’ve said before:


“The speaker is not the main act. 


The real ‘you’ is watching me, watching you.”


Maybe the question shouldn’t be ‘why are you trying to be authentic?’


But who is the ‘you’ doing the trying?


_______________________________________________________________________________________


My name is Clark. I tell potential clients they'll know within 20 minutes whether we're a good fit.


And so will I.


For some, my matter-of-fact style doesn't work.


I'm cool with that.


Those I do work with prefer the straight-talking, pragmatic approach.


If you drop me a line and we decide to chat, in 20 minutes you'll know.

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