Tuesday 10th Oct 2017
There is one trait that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
One trait which eats strategy for breakfast, one trait which if you get it wrong can discredit you and your brand (personal and/or business) in a second. This trait is one of the most important for me as it is the ‘glue’ that binds all the other traits together.
You could think of it as the hub, or like Steve Jobs’ vision when he created the ‘mother station’ (the mac) and the i-gadgets plug into it.
Yes, this trait is that important.
Authenticity is about being the real deal.
Authenticity is about being really clear on what you stand for, the values that drive your thinking, and the filters through which you define your behavior.
Authenticity is about having an unwavering determination that no matter what happens you will never compromise your core values and beliefs; that you will remain true to who you are and what you stand for.
You will never compromise on doing the right thing, every time. And whilst external influences to bend, to close an eye, to get in line will remain, you will have an internal peace because you know you are the real deal.
In my recent blog – how to develop your personal brand in 5 easy steps – I listed two questions to consider at the end of each day:
Have I been true to my personal brand, living with authenticity, purpose and focus?
What one thing have I done today to enhance and strengthen my personal brand?
Whatever attributes you use to describe your personal brand – determined, driven, loyal, consistent, caring – authenticity is a must have. Being the real deal is more important than ever!
I often use the expression;
“People never consistently do who they aren’t”.
Now, I know the sentence is grammatically incorrect but it’s written that way to deliberately stop you in your tracks, to make you think.
People never consistently do who they aren’t. So, what do I actually mean?
When individuals are inauthentic, when they are not ‘being’ the real deal two things happen.
Firstly, their façade starts to slip. Whether it’s when they’re under pressure, or over confident or when their guard is down, their true-self starts to emerge. You notice inconsistencies in their manner, you begin to question their motives, you may start to ask ‘can I trust this person?’
Which leads me to the second thing.
Authenticity goes hand in hand with trustworthiness. Great business and personal relationships are based on trust. We like to interact and do business with people we feel comfortable with and have some degree of trust and rapport with. Where there is high trust relationships ripen into long lasting business partnerships and even into friendships.
And yet trust can be destroyed just as easily.
In society today, trust is genuinely broken across the market place. A bold statement to make I know, but let me give you my take on why I think this.
Consider the catastrophic collapse of Enron in December 2001; a company that enjoyed a share price of more than $90 just 18 months before it came to an abrupt halt at a share price of less than a dollar.
The collapse of Lehman Brothers, a sprawling global bank, in September 2008 almost brought down the world’s financial system. It took huge taxpayer- financed bailouts to shore up the industry across the globe. Despite 150 years of success, when Lehman Brothers executives began to realize the nature of the miscalculation that meant they owned billions of dollars in worthless paper, it was too late. It collapsed in a single weekend.
Across the Atlantic from Lehman Brothers, around about the same time, a similar scenario played out at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) I personally know many people who had their bonuses, pensions, and retirement savings all wrapped up in RBS shares, only to see the whole lot wiped out when RBS went into rescue.
The Enron and Lehman Brothers collapse, the near collapse of RBS (to name but a few) wiped out billions of dollars in investment, destroyed the faith of many in business, and cast a stain on the truthfulness of business leaders for many years afterwards.
Volkswagen destroyed years of loyalty and are still unpacking the fall out from the emissions scandal.
How could I not mention Michael O’Leary and the next crisis he is residing over after another PR debacle at Ryan Air. Would you trust this airline to get you where you need to be?
Even Donald Trump, President of the United States asserts daily #fakenews on his twitter account!?
What and who are we to believe today?!
I could talk for an age on why trust is a bedfellow of authenticity but I want to leave you with a poem which I frequently share at my keynote and workshop engagements. It’s one of my favourites, which I passionately believe drives home the essence of authenticity.
The ‘Man in the Glass’, Peter ‘Dale’ Wimbrow Sr first appeared in print in 1934.
‘When you get what you want in your struggle for life
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass,
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
You may be like Jack Horner and pull out a plum
And think you’re a wonderful guy ,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest ,
For he’s with you clear to the end .
And you’ve passed your most dangerous difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
I suggest you read the poem a few times and take a few quiet moments to think about how the message applies to you and your life.
Are you the real deal? Is authenticity the bedrock of your being?
It is for inspirational individuals and leaders.
They know that energy spent being something they’re not is energy they could better apply to building success.
What is your mirror telling you?