What Does Authenticity Really Mean?

I’m captivated by authenticity.

In a world of “fake it til you make it”, “facebook lives versus real lives”, ‘FAKE NEWS!’ and polished performers, I have become to value authenticity now more than ever.

Being authentic is genuine. It’s real. It’s brave. It’s about being the person you really are, being comfortable with this, and not trying to be something that you are not. But it doesn’t have to be about letting the world see every aspect of you all the time. It’s human and authentic to keep things to ourselves and to adjust our behaviour depending on circumstance.

Dylan Thomas had this great line “I hold a beast, an angel, and a mad man in me” something those who have an awareness of the life Dylan Thomas lived would probably believe to be true in his case. How much of the angel did the world see? More to the point, how much of the angel did Dylan Thomas allow the world to see?

So here’s a variation on the theme. What is it about authenticity that we really admire?

Im not captivated by every authentic person or persons, but by people who I believe are portraying themselves fairly accurately (as much as I believe that to be the case of course). I am captivated by those whose character and personality and values and beliefs I can respect and appreciate. I am captivated by those with flaws and with needs, but with good heart and a genuineness. After all, i’m unlikely to be positively captivated by someone who is being an authentically horrible person, so the formula needs to have some ‘if’ considerations.

For me, authenticity is about being honest and human. Authentic leadership is about the same. I have infinitely more respect for a leader who is honest, without agenda, on their flaws and strengths, and on their opinion of mine, and are human in their approach; by being empathetic, caring and professional. 

If that’s not the mark of a true, modern and inspirational leader, then I don’t know what is.

2 thoughts on “What Does Authenticity Really Mean?

  1. This really resonates with me Mark, we all have different facets of ourselves and need to be true to them. If you’re going to carve out a profile and credibility, it’s too long a road to be disingenuous. I remember a distinguished L&D professional telling me someone had basically told him off for tweeting about X Factor on a Saturday night. This was a personal preference in between loads of great professional sharing and networking on Twitter the rest of the time. He told the person to unfollow him as watching X Factor was something he liked to do and he was going to tweet about regardless – good for him! I completely agree that in today’s world of so much fakery, authenticity is more valuable than ever.


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