the inspiration blog

Authenticity vs. “Being Authentic”

Posted on: February 13, 2013

If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you likely know I’m pretty obsessed with authenticity. Because I just can’t deal with people who feel really fake, or entrepreneurs and businesses that use scheming sales tactics, yet still attempt to label their efforts as “real” or “being authentic.” Ugh!

The thing is, those tactics used to work. But they don’t much anymore, because we’ve seen them in too many places. See, anything that’s a you-can-do-it formula will eventually become… formulaic. People see through it, even though the most well-intended, heart-based entrepreneurs fall prey to it. Whether it’s the tactic where the seller crosses out a bunch of prices and offers a really low “sale” price, or where they give a presentation that feels manipulative, the false premise is that they must do this in order to be a success.

And this simply isn’t true.

You can be YOU – the real you – and succeed.

I used to think, for example, that I couldn’t bring my whole self to my work. Like, when emailing my community I strived to be “professional”… and in doing so, I hid part of myself. What if they found out that I’m not normal?? Finally, I decided to have a “coming out” party… and announced to my list that I’m a deeply spiritual person. (Gasp!) And that it’s an essential part of my work (I’m an empath and an intuitive – so I deeply feel what’s happening with a client, and also can tune into what’s most aligned for them with their voice or with creating a thriving practice). This was scary. And you know what the big response was? Very little. Except that, the more I brought my real self out, the more I began to attract ideal clients. Cool, huh? The same goes for you. 

Authenticity is not…

A formula. Not that formulas are evil (not reinventing the wheel can actually save you a lot of time!), but you must adapt them to fit you.

A particular way of speaking. Any style dictated by someone else will not be your true voice.

Your habits. This is a tricky one: something may not feel authentic or “natural,” but that may be because it’s asking you to grow. This is true, for example, when I’m teaching clients empowering ways to breathe to support their voices more fully, or when expanding vocal dynamics.

Real authenticity is…

Being humble…and also in your power. It’s giving an offering from your heart, and doing your best, without trying to prove yourself.

Simply being present. You don’t need to talk in any particular style to be authentic. The less you try to be authentic, the better.

Staying open. If you receive your audience, or the other person, and honor them, you’ll more truly know how to respond in a real way.

Letting go. We’ve learned so many habits and patterns that go far beyond how we speak. It’s about our emotional makeup and our thoughts. And when we learn to release these, and find our true voice, we find our authenticity.

More than anything, authenticity is a path. In my experience, it takes time, and practice, and simple techniques, to release what isn’t truly us – so that we can let the golden sunshine of our true selves shine forth. And when you do, you’ll feel more at peace, more alive, and will become the true agent of change you were born to be.

And this is when your clients will come – and when your business will flourish. Because you’re just being you. Yes, business skills are necessary, but they’ll sign up because they experience the real you.

For me, authenticity is about frequent self-examination. Not in a scrutinizing, negative way, but in asking myself questions, about my behavior and how I feel internally: How am I showing up? Am I following my true path? Do I feel in integrity with how I’m speaking and interacting? Am I following formulas that aren’t me, and what might feel better? …While this sometimes may be a bit much, I am dedicated to embodying what I believe.

How about you? Other thoughts on authenticity? Please share your experiences, and leave comments or questions below.




4 Responses to "Authenticity vs. “Being Authentic”"

Great post, Jonathan. Getting clarity on what is your voice vs. what is your “received” voice doesn’t get much air play. Thanks for throwing light on this critical topic!

I discovered in my mid-20’s that it was very difficult to be anyone other than me in any of life’s circumstances–personal or career. When my company insisted that all middle management people had to take a personality profile, which I had never done before, I participated because I was the administrator of office services. After several weeks, the consulting company returned to do one-on-one meetings with each person who completed their profile. I was called in when it was my turn. Imagine my surprise when I was grilled because the consultants felt that I cheated. How could I cheat on a personality profile that I’ve never seen before in my life, I retorted. After several seconds of feeling unjustly accused, I calmed down and asked the consultant why they felt I had cheated. “Because no one has this kind of profile where they are the same at home as they are at work or in any situation,” he said. I felt somewhat relieved at that point because it was true. I never thought about being someone else other than me in any situation. I find that 40+ years later, this “me being authentically me” serves me well in my work as a journalist. Thinking back on my life, I recall often being asked, “If you could be anyone you wanted to, no matter whether the person is dead or alive, who would you be. Honestly, I could never come up with anyone’s name that I would want to switch places with. That’s not because my life has been without significant challenges and setbacks. It’s because I only want to be the best me possible–anywhere and at any time–whether I’m facing a challenge, hugging my daughter, having a disagreement with a colleague or soaring off the ground after a great interview. I feel that this is my authenticity at its best and what allows me to live in my own skin.

What an inspiring story, Linda! I love it – and you so model it wherever you go.

…And for others reading the comments, I highly recommend checking out Linda’s site, – incredibly important work!


J, I’ve discovered that being authentic is being transparent and also allowing me to feel what I am feeling. It’s not being zen (although sometimes it is) and it is not being in a superficial “higher” standing but rather when I am confused I say I am confused. If I’m angry I acknowledge my anger and all the other host of emotions that we as humans have.

So happy you asked this questions as I have been thinking of this very response for a long time!

xo to you ~ Pila

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