How To Stay Authentic?

Wow. This man is full of confidence, I thought to myself. If I could only be like him. He has everything under control. Strong. Intellectual. Authentic. 

I looked at the car as it drove away and stayed there for a few minutes. This man was everything I wanted to be. But I was shy. I was quite. How am I to be like him with no experience? No money. And most sadly, I have NO faith in myself. That night I went home an turned on my computer. After searching for a few minutes online I found out, that the man I saw today. He was the Vice President of the biggest Utility Vehicle Import Export Company of South East Asia. I read everything about him that I could find and absorbed every article written about him. Thanks to technology, information is at our fingertip at all times.

In the next 5 years, I was working on myself. Everyday. I woke up thinking of my idol and worked hard to gain the respect that I had for this man. Every meeting when I was about to be quiet again I forced myself to say something. Anything. Most of the times it was valuable. Every time somebody tried to take advantage of me I made clear that I am not tolerating this anymore. I know, people knew me as the shy and nice person who always says Yes and Amen to everything. Even though that’s not what I wanted I never dared to say No. I never did what I wanted for myself. All wanted was to be liked and to be part of the group. Whether it was in school, on the football team or in college. It was hard at first and I had to practice daily to go after what I wanted. A lot of friends have turned their backs on me. Thinking about it today I know they weren’t real friends. Real friends would have supported me. Even my family started saying that I changed. There were times that I wanted to go back to the old me. Saying Amen to all there is. Pleasing everybody. Everybody but myself. Then I thought of that moment, 5 years ago that changed my life and I decided to be me. Me. And only Me. Every day.

15 years have passed. December 13th I was sitting in the back of the car while the driver took us to the meeting of my company in a joint venture for a new business opportunity. Me and my brother stomped this business out of nothing and made it big. It took us years to make it happen but we finally did it. I entered the room as I saw the man I saw 15 years ago. I immediately recognized him. He was older of course but he had the same energy. The same Power, the same Look. I went up to him and respectfully introduced myself.

“Mr. Banks. I am pleased to meet you in person finally. You may not know me but you have changed my Life. As a young man, I saw you on 5th Avenue. That glimpse of a moment showed me the way that I have to go. I have been working hard on myself to be just like you. For years. And now that I have the chance… I wanted to ask you a question. It was on my mind in the last decade. Mr. Banks, what is your secret? What is it that makes you be this respected among all your business partners and family members and friends?

Mr. Banks looked at me. He started smiling as he said:There is no greater way of being successful in life than being real. All I ever did .. was being myself.”

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Be Authentic

Authenticity — what is it, who has it, and how do you get it?

What does it mean to be authentic?

Earlier in my career, I worked as a banker. Life in the bank is a rush of the moment, you get in and out of office. You fit the corporate life according to the needs of a corporate leader. Becoming a banker does a lot for my bank balance but deep inside the job itself never felt right to me.

That’s often the feeling we get when we are being inauthentic — or acting in ways that aren’t in-line with our values, preferences, and abilities. That something isn’t right. We feel out-of-sync and out-of-sorts, even if things on the surface appear to be ideal.

There can be moments when we are truly expressing our authentic selves and then there are moments that trigger our inner wounds. We then find ourselves acting in a way that’s out of alignment with our own inner truth and, instead, acting as a reaction to our wounds being reactivated.

I wanted to write articles, not create a bank account release. I wanted to inspire others, not create reputations and images for people who were too busy to do it themselves. The job — hands down I know many talented, passionate folks who do it well — just wasn’t consistent with who I knew myself to be. I felt inauthentic. That’s it.

The cornerstone of authenticity is Self-Awareness

With many paths to self-improvement, one must start with observing yourself. You will meet new people eventually, engage in work and spend time with different social groups, try to observe how you feel in each situation. When do you feel most comfortable? Authenticity starts when you set the intention to be genuine. Then, there must be an awareness of what that looks and feels like, and a willingness to act in accordance with your genuine nature even when it feels vulnerable.

When this kind of self-awareness kicks in, your decisions are easier because you are free to choose things that move you closer to your values. You are able to stand in the presence of your imperfections because you can accept your humanity. You can also embrace your talents and abilities.

But take my advice seriously – Authenticity may also require you to make unpopular decisions or to acknowledge aspects of yourself that you’d rather hideaway, but in the end, it allows you to live a more open, honest, and engaged life.

When I left my job as a banker, I felt happy at first but that joy turns out to be a questioning point in my life. I felt lost. I asked myself, ‘where is my busy life?’, ‘what is my back up plan for my future hereafter?’… ‘Did I make a wise decision to leave a secured job just to follow my dreams?’ I know I had to do something to my life and it took me some serious guts to stand firm with my decisions and follow my heart. Now here, this is what I call intuition.

I had to foster an open mind. Practice, practice, practice. Practice your mind to have a reexamination. Authenticity flourishes when we experience the world wholly, from every perspective. Rigid, good/bad thinking keeps us trapped in judgment and limitation, which causes us to shut down our vulnerable, authentic self. Challenge yourself to look at all sides of the situation. Be open.

Always trust your intuition. Often, we feel out of sync when we are acting inauthentically. Things just don’t feel right. Pay attention to that heed, physical sensations, and impressions. They can be your instincts telling you that you are not being genuine. When you are on track and authentic, you’ll feel that too.

I felt at ease and in flow when I left being a banker a few months later to write full-time. Finally, I was truly myself: authentic. This is a journey that is unpredictable as I learn more about myself.

Through a clear intention and paying attention, eventually, I learn to hold myself accountable. Through discipline and commitment, I learn to do my best to live according to who I  know myself to be. That’s profound authenticity, and it sure beats the alternative!

Being Authentic.

Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me. You can also re-tweet this post, share it on Facebook, or email it to friends who may enjoy it. To learn more about me, visit my Instagram or my Facebook page “Inspired By Cherisha” which is just around the header on your right.