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Everybody’s talking about being authentic, but that doesn’t mean everybody’s actually genuine. This episode of Faithful on the Clock explores how to tell the authentic professionals from the fakes, and how to make sure others see you as real.
[00:35] - I might sound different because I’m recovering from COVID.
[00:50] - Many companies are traditional, using waterfall/hierarchical structures. But they know the importance of authenticity.
[01:36] - Hero leadership is dying out. Authentic leadership is important because we all have a need to feel unconditionally loved and accepted.
[02:25] - Previous scandals show that people respond to novelty and individualism in apology.
[03:18] - Everyone seems to be jumping on the authenticity train, which makes it hard to discern if they in fact are being authentic.
[04:06] - The big question is who is authentic and how to make sure people get the right impression from you.
[04:25] - Authentic people have a natural, consistent flow, revealing themselves gradually and organically over time. There should be evidence of this journey when you evaluate someone.
[05:21] - Context also matters in determining authenticity. You may be invited to share your message if you are developing organically. Watch to make sure the demeanor of the person you are watching does not change according to their environment or circumstances.
[06:32] - Authentic people can learn and change their minds, but they give good rationales for their shifts. They don’t gossip, and they can reveal the entire spectrum of their emotions.
[07:47] - How someone responds to challenges (competition) is a big clue to authenticity, as well. Authentic people are happy to cheer others on. Iron-sharpens-iron is a better approach than dog-eat-dog.
[08:38] - 2 Corinthians 1:12 reminds us to reflect God in how we interact with people.
[09:23] - Proverbs 11:3 reminds us that God does keep score–people with authenticity and integrity will win, while those who are crooked will not prosper.
Self-assess your efforts to be honest and real. How do your behavior and communication reflect your authenticity?
Make a list of things that hold you back from better authenticity. Find some accountability buddies who can help you address the items on that list.
What’s coming up next:
In Episode 45 of Faithful on the Clock, we’re talking about lauding businesses and individual professionals. Why is it OK to name names when things go right, but not when they go wrong, and how does that connect to the greater accountability we need in the corporate space?
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Welcome, welcome, everyone. If you’re new to the show, this is the Faithful on the Clock podcast, where the quest is to get your faith and work aligned, and I am your host, Wanda Thibodeaux. This week I am talking about authenticity and a kind of weird trend I think is going on with that. I hope it’s gonna help you think about how you’re real with people, so let’s get the party started.
So really quickly, I just want to let you know, if I sound a little tired, it’s because I’m recovering from COVID. So it’s not your imagination, I probably do sound a little different, but I’ll do my best not to cough all over my mic here. But moving on.
Over the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of talk about different leadership styles and what might be good to do. And the basic big picture of that is that, you know, there are lot of companies that still are pretty traditional, that for the way they need to go forward, they’ve kind of stuck to more linear or waterfall styles of operating, and they’re still being built around a hierarchical organizational structure. But I think even in those companies, leaders are seeing all these studies come in about how important it is to come across as genuine. They know the impact it has on trust and cohesion and all of that. And plus, you know, I think, especially through the pandemic, people are just tired. They’ve had enough of trying to pretend like things are fine and they’re tired of trying to put out this polished image all the time.
So what we call old-school hero leadership, that’s–certainly there’s still people that follow that, and leaders are still scared of what will happen if they’re not perfect. But there’s a huge push for authenticity. And from the Christian perspective, authenticity is so, so important, because–Roy Baldwin, he’s got a great article on this I’ll link to, but he points out that we all have a God-given desire to feel loved and appreciated unconditionally just as we are. And He talks about how that’s actually foundational to our relationship with Christ because we have to understand that His sacrifice on the cross meets that need. It doesn’t have any strings attached. He sees you and me just as we are and He gave Himself for you, warts and all.
Now here’s the general trend, the problem I see happening, the danger, if you will. So just for a second, I want you to think about some of the scandals or apologies you’ve heard from companies over the year. A lot of them, and I talked about this in Episode 24 about cancel culture, they don’t come across as authentic with those apologies. And part of the reason for that is that they use the same script as everyone else. And because they say it just like everyone else, there’s something about that behavior that raises red flags. We associate authenticity or genuineness I think with a little bit of novelty. We don’t want it to be cookie-cutter. It’s the same like, like that’s why we like personalized coupons and campaigns, right? Because if you’re saying the same thing to everyone it feels like you don’t matter or aren’t seen individually.
So what I’ve kind of noticed is that everybody has kind of jumped on board this whole authenticity train. And I hear people expressing this idea of authenticity kind of in these cookie-cutter ways. Everybody’s got an article on how they learned to be themselves, everybody’s giving a TED talk, and everybody’s got a podcast about their personal journey. And I will admit maybe I am a little more suspicious than most, and I’ll own that. But for me, that’s really confusing. Because in the back of my mind, I honestly don’t know if they are saying these things because they do have the genuine desire to be real with me, or if they’re saying what they think is the right thing based on what’s around them. You know what I’m saying? It’s like the popular T-shirt everybody’s wearing, and I’m looking around and seeing everybody in the same thing and I’m like, what is going on?
The question through all this that I want to address in this episode is, if everybody’s going around in the same silly T-shirt, you know, how do you tell who is being authentic and who is just kind of saying it to say it? And how can you make sure that people don't get the impression from you that you’re putting on a mask with it?
The main thing with this I think is natural, consistent flow. Like, someone who’s being authentic, they might not reveal everything all at once. They’re not gonna be like some flasher saying “Ta da! Here I am!” Because real authenticity, it’s always a process. It’s always really organic and it’s kind of this spontaneous thing, because self-discovery is ongoing. And you’re always kind of gauging what’s appropriate to reveal and when to do it, and as trust gets better, your confidence grows, you start sharing deeper and much more personal stuff. So if you get up on the stage to share your message, or if you check out a speaker or something, read a book from somebody somewhere, you should be able to find some evidence of that organic buildup. You should see that journey and see that the message is just finally kind of crystallizing into a formal platform. It should not seem out of character when you look at their history or if they look at yours.
Connected to this, take a look at the context. There are a lot of instances where people go out and share their messages or lessons because they believe in the value those messages and lessons have. And that’s awesome. Go ahead and do that if there’s an experience or belief you’re passionate about. But a lot of the time, if you’re sharing your little nuggets organically with people, what happens is that people start inviting you to do it again to new audiences. So don’t work so hard. Let people give you those invitations. And when you’re looking at others, take a look at how they interact around the whole event. Do they stick around to make genuine connections or give resources, or do you see them kind of just turn off as soon as the cameras and microphones aren’t on anymore? Watch their demeanor, because authentic people aren’t going to pivot their behavior super dramatically. They share just to be generous or because they think it’s right, not because they expect anything back. So you should not get the sense that they are just taking advantage of the circumstances or that there’s some hidden agenda going on behind the scenes. You shouldn’t see them come around only when they need something from you.
Then you can look at communication. Authentic people, you know, they’re learning about themselves and they can change their minds over time. That’s human. But they’re going to be direct with you along the way. They’re gonna tell you what their rationale is. So I think it’s important for you to be clear about how you’re thinking, to explain what your priorities are and to follow through as much as you can. Because again, people look for patterns. They trust consistent behavior. So even as you grow, make that effort to show people that you’re not just a reed in the wind that’s gonna bend to every little thing. Authentic people also don’t bother with rumors or gossip. They’re not about that because they’re confident enough in themselves that they don’t have to use drama as a currency to puff up their own ego or reputation. And then finally within communication, authentic people show the variance of their emotions. They’ll admit it if they’re upset instead of trying to save face. So look for that spectrum of feelings and ask yourself, “Am I really showing what’s in my heart? Or am I just showing this narrow slice and trying to be nice all the time because that’s what I think other people want to see?”
The next thing is, look at how the person deals with challenges. And what I mean by that is, they shouldn’t cut you down if you’re legitimate competition. Authentic people, they can see their strengths and weaknesses pretty well. And they know they’re not the king of every hill. They know they don’t have every skill or know every fact. So they’re happy to let others shine and show up for them when that’s appropriate. So if you want to seem genuine, don’t just put the spotlight on yourself. Hold others up. Ask what they need. Take an iron sharpens iron approach, not dog eat dog. And at the same time, where you do have a particular talent or skill, go ahead and advocate for yourself. Go tell people, “Hey, I know how to do x or y, I think I could help” and don’t sell yourself short.
So to wrap God into everything, let me point you to 2 Corinthians 1:12, which says, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom, but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” And the idea behind this verse is that if we love God, if we’re really following Christ, we will try our best to reflect God in how we interact with people. And that includes making an effort to be honest, to be clear about who we are and what our intentions are. You know, we’re not gonna try to beat around the bush about stuff or paint an image. We’re just gonna lay it out on the table the way it is.
The other verse I’d like to share is Proverbs 11:3. That verse says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” And I want to highlight this verse because I know that you might look out there today and see people who really are not authentic. And they might get ahead of you because they can fake it with the best of them. You know, they say all the right things at the right time. And if we’re working hard, we’re trying to follow the rules, that can really sting. And we can say, “Where the heck is justice in all of this? How is this fair?” But this verse is reassurance that in the end, the people who play those kinds of games aren’t going to be able to hide from God. They are not going to have anything they’ve built stand. So I want you to take that to heart today and just know that God does keep score. He is watching and waiting to reward you for doing the right thing. So you don’t have to be anxious or hold on to anger about it. You can let it go and just trust Him to dish out what’s appropriate so that you can live your life as the good servant He meant you to be.
So if you’re willing, would you help me close out the episode and join me in a quick prayer?
God in Heaven, I know I personally have been trying to figure out how to be more honest with people and get comfortable sharing who I am. And it’s scary and messy, and I know that all of us can worry about what others are going to think about us. So I pray today that you’ll remind each of us that we are beautiful just as we are because we are yours, that we don’t have to lie or be anything except who we are. And Lord, just encourage each of us to stop letting fear be the driver in our lives. Keep the model of your honesty in front of us with every step we take. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Well, that’s everything for today. Before you go, just to preview next week’s show, we’ll be talking about lauding businesses and individual professionals. Why is it OK to name names when things go right, but not when they go wrong, and how does that connect to the greater accountability we need in the corporate space? As you wait for that, head on over to patreon.com/Faithfulontheclock and become a supporting member for the show. Whatever tier works for you, it’s all good, but it’s a fantastic way to get involved and get extras for the podcast. Have a great week, everybody, and until next time, be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast dedicated to ensuring your faith and work align. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.