Authenticity - meaning and the importance of being you

Authenticity in my opinion means being who you truly are, and taking away all masks that we have put around our true self during our life.

We are all born as authentic beings, without any agenda, without judging, without having to pretend anything.

As we grow older, we start to comply to social norms and in trying to fit it, pretend things that are not 100% true and authentic.
This is what we do to be part of something bigger - to belong to a group of friends in school, to fit in to the workplace, to fit in with our family.

In order to not appear impolite in social contexts, we will often hide our true feelings and emotions.

Authenticity and organizational challenges

Why is it important that we stop pretending, especially in the workplace?

Many leaders and aspiring leaders have been led to believe that if you want to succeed, you have to "play the game".
Thus, a lot of organizations still foster an atmosphere of manipulating situations and, at times, people and managing information to personal advantages.

The problem is, acting politically creates guardedness.

And when you act politically instead of authentically, you lose the loyalty, commitment, creativity and personal investment of those around you.

Horses remove the masks

The greatest gifts that horses can give us as humans is to discover our true self again, and to remember who we really are and what really matters. 

A horse can simply not deal with our duality of actually feeling something, but then pretending to feel something else.
It irritates them tremendously if we are not honest about our feelings, because they can sense both.

Sensing incongruence makes them wonder what you are trying to hide and what you could potentially be up to - and if they are not getting a clear picture of your intentions, their instincts tell them that you cannot be trusted.

Combined with the fact that we are predators, they just want to get away from us.

Being authentic is also about being vulnerable

In team trainings with our horses, but also in individual coaching, we therefore very quickly get to the core of problems. Participants experience that there it is not necessary to hide anymore, and that they succeed faster if they are honest about their feelings.

For example, in a recent training we had a team from the energy sector, and it was a very male-biased group.
The task was to connect to the horse and get the horse to follow.

The participant walked into the arena, and in order to show off in front of his colleagues, decided he wanted to get the horse to follow him without any ropes attached.
Very nonchalantly he walked to the horse, gestured "let's go" and expected the horse to follow, as he had seen the horse follow others before.

The horse, a huge, white gelding, just looked at him and did not move.
I reminded him to build a relationship first.
The man returned to the horse and started petting him and talking to him, inaudible to the audience.
It was visible that he started enjoying the closeness to the horse, and the "cool man" suddenly became soft.

On his next attempt, the horse willingly walked with him, the nose almost touching the man's shoulder, without any ropes, pressure, or needing to be convinced.

Asked about his experience in this short interaction, the participant said he was very happy and realized how important the "human touch" is, as is the importance of having a good relationship as foundation to any work you want to do in a team.

Did he make a fool of himself in front of his peers for being vulnerable?

He got applause from his team and it was beautiful for everyone to see!

Can we use more of this openness and vulnerability between people?
Capital YES!

If you as a leader won’t be open and vulnerable, then neither will those around you 

Do you want a culture of openness, trust, and honesty at your workplace, and in your family?

Then you have to be the role model!

By showing authenticity, you allow others around you to be authentic as well, to admit mistakes before they become huge problems, and to openly learn from those mistakes.

Could your team or family use more authenticity?
Book a training with us to unmask your people - in a soft, non embarrassing, non judgemental way. 
In a way that encourages trust and openness in the long run, which you will all benefit from.

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Tags: Authenticity meaning, authenticity in the workplace, leadership training, family life

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