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“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
― E.E. Cummings

Last week, I wrote about the power of accessing your network. In this post on pivotal moments, I want to share about how I learned what real authenticity is.

A reader in the Atlanta area sent me a message about my blog on networking saying, “I do this all the time.” Since everyone doesn’t do this well, I asked him how he was able to do it so easily.

“One big thing is self awareness.” He said. “To be honest, being self-aware of your own weaknesses is, I think, one of the greatest strengths you could have. Also humility. If you can see that others have gone before you and have wisdom for the taking…” asking, “is huge.”

So how do we get self-awareness? I’d like to unpack what this means and how it led me understand true authenticity.

What Self Awareness Is
Self awareness comes when we understand our unique story, the things that formed us and our unique wiring. “Unique wiring” means knowing your personality and strengths. Once you’ve got all this, looking at how your personal ambitions connect to it all can be an empowering combination leading to self-actualization. How are you doing in this area?

My Sense of Misalignment
After I’d worked as a coach and consultant for a few years, I decided to pursue another certification to become a certified mentor coach. What I got, however was way bigger than another certification—here’s how it happened.

For years I’d felt like I wasn’t aligned in my coaching work. Sure I’d accomplished some good things with leaders and teams, but still, I felt something was missing. Between sessions in my certification course, I sat with one of the instructors sharing this.

“I’m not sure how my pastoral past connects with my current executive work,” I said. “I’ve always felt like my past doesn’t connect with my present.”

As we unpacked all this, she asked a series of powerful questions— “where did you get the idea that your past and your present weren’t connected? Who told you that? Was it valid at one time? Is it valid anymore?”

After going away from that interaction and reflecting on these questions I realized something—I was who I was in whatever setting I was in. I needed to learn to acknowledge and accept my past and bring the best of it into my current work.

What I Do Now
Today, I’ve learned to tell my story with confidence and affirm how my pastoral years prepared me well to help serve people in a corporate setting. People are always surprised when I share with them, “working for the church equipped me well to understand people—and people are what make the business work. My belief is that the real strategic work is relational. If we get that wrong, our tactical work will go nowhere.” I’ve yet to met a person who disagrees with me on this.

The Authenticity Formula: Self-Awareness x Courage
Chip Conley, author of Emotional Equations, gives a simple formula for Authenticity—he says it’s Self-Awareness x Courage. I realize today that what’s led to my success and happiness as a coach is helping others do this very thing.

The first part to authenticity is self-awareness. Once you know your story, strengths and ambitions; multiplying who you are with a little courage helps you on your way to authenticity.  I strive for that, how about you?

What are your stories of learning to live authentically? Why do you think this matters so much? I’d love to hear from you.

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