Always smile and look at things in the most positive of ways, you are encouraged.
Find that silver lining, focus less on the negative, and all will be well, you are told. Is this reality or more of what one might call “faking it to make it”?
On the other hand, can you exhibit a genuinely sunny demeanor when cash flow is at its leanest? Of course you can. Mindset makes a big difference, but so does authenticity.
Those who are true to themselves tend to have the energy to effectively deal with everything else. Those who can be genuine (versus those who hide who they really are) find strength in adversity and tend not to take things personally. But how is that even possible? Who has time to be real when there are patients to see and a stack of bills to pay?
Yet there is tremendous value in authenticity, much more so than most leaders think. The trick is to find a reason in this list that speaks the loudest to you, and remember it takes less time and energy to be real than doing nearly anything else.
1. Renew your energy
The amount of energy required for constantly putting on an act is exhausting. But most people who lack authenticity don’t even realize they are acting and have normalized their state of feeling worn out. Consider the young man who grew up watching his father run a practice.
His father was direct and to the point; the boy was more mild-mannered, shy, and hesitant, but with a huge heart for patients and their wellness. His father showed him how he should act, and did so with the best of intentions.
In turn, the boy grew up thinking his way of naturally behaving wasn’t good enough. So he masked his true style to adopt that of his father, and even though for him, being so direct, commanding, and bossy all the time was tiring, it eventually became habitual.
A lifetime of this unconscious behavior to cover up one’s genuine personality results in burnout and questions like “What should I be doing instead of this?” But energy will come back and the questions will stop when permission to be real is internally granted.
2. Regain your direction
Imagine wearing a costume with two eye holes and living life only from the view of those small portals. When you cover up your natural style, you live encased in a costume of inauthenticity.
Much as it must be hot, suffocating, heavy, and prone to provoke cranky behavior, the view from a costume obscures one’s sense of direction.
Consider the case of a young thriving chiropractor interested in doing television advertising. Without authenticity, the process for making decisions and moving forward feels broken.
Should she do the acting or would that look self-centered? Should she engage this ad firm or the next one?
Should she put her own face on TV or would she be judged for being more public than her colleagues?
A lack of authenticity and homage to one’s natural personality causes questions to be considered that have little or no real bearing. Behind a mask, it is hard to see where one is going, much less the choices one must make to determine a destination. Be real and vision is restored, as the mask and costume get figuratively thrown on the floor.
3. Restore your protection
Without authenticity, people are more prone to take others’ behavior personally. In the case of a close-knit practice, with few employees to manage, this can create difficult situations in a hurry.
If the doctor or manager in place has developed the habit of being someone they are not, has a well-practiced script for the “should’s” they should follow in behavior, then the likelihood of not being open to feedback or criticism is abundant. There is a lack of protection from what other people think that comes from a lack of authenticity.
If a new partner joins the practice and has myriad ideas for new and better ways of doing business, the doctor without a strong foundational personality will question these ideas and take suggestions as personal attacks or criticisms. Authenticity provides protection from worry of what others think because the habit that’s been formed is based on the mentality of “Who I am is okay and what they think is just their opinion.” With a clear sense of being genuine and having a strong, authentic feeling, there is less emotional attachment to what others think and less likelihood that what others say or do will be taken personally.
Being real is popular in our culture of self-help and seeking new ways of looking at things. But being real is also a kind of act. It’s an act of paramount importance. It’s one that requires no effort, only permission. It’s also one that takes far less energy than faking it and results in less volatile reactions to stress.
Some only return to genuineness when they—or the act of faking it—get old. But why wait? Be bold and be who you are naturally and embrace authenticity because being someone else takes way too much energy.
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development coach, consultant, and professional speaker. As CEO of training firm, Contagious Companies, Inc., she and her team work with chiropractic practices, healthcare, retail, hospitality and government industry leaders to develop their leadership skills. She can be contacted at 866-382-0121, or through contagiouscompanies.com.