The “Be Authentic” religion has always troubled me. Dogmatic. Non-negotiable. Supreme.
I don’t buy it. It’s not the most important thing, because it positions your “authenticity” as more important than the collective good.
“Be authentic” is a selfish mantra.
The top of the hierarchy isn’t to be authentic. It is to “do the right thing”.
So when being authentic means that you do the right thing, then absolutely do it. But you’re not doing it because it is authentic – you do it because it is the right thing. That it is authentic as well is a fantastic bonus, and probably means in this matter, you’re one of the “good people”.
Whatever that means.
Our authenticity is constantly changing – if we’re the same now as we were at 15, we’ve not learned a thing. I’m not the same now as I was at 40. The best journey is for our authentic selves to be increasingly aligning with the right thing. That’s where wisdom comes in.
Do we ever fully get there? I doubt it. I don’t think anyone fully inhabits the intersection in that venn diagram all the time. I’m far from it, and I suspect you are too. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always try to go there. That’s the journey.
So being authentic is an exercise in selfishness. The world doesn’t care about your authenticity. It cares whether or not you’re doing the right thing.
And if you’re in a leadership position, you’d better be more obsessed about doing the right thing than doing the authentic thing. Or you’ll be doing your team, yourself, and the place your growing a selfish disservice.
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