A colleague of mine (Stewart Hayes) reached out to me a couple weeks ago with the brief message:
I found another member of The Authenticity Army
I hadn’t thought of the concept in that way before and it really made me reflect. I know that Stewart and I share similar thoughts on doing the right thing (not because it’s the way the organizational culture thinks it’s the right thing, but because it’s the right thing to do), but I’d never thought of how rare that quality really is in the real world.
In my current permanent role I am realizing more and more each day how lucky I am to be surrounded by authentic people. People who share my passion for excellence. People who want to create the future rather than just experience it. But Stewart’s comment reminded me that truly authentic people who you can count on to do what they say, deliver when they say they will, challenge groupthink and tradition, and question you when you need to be questioned really are rare in the world today.
It’s taken me a long time to actually complete this post that I started that day because when I reflected on the idea of an “Authenticity Army” I questioned whether I really deserved to be a member. Surely to be considered a part of such an elite sounding group I would have to be truly authentic 100% of the time, a Mother Theresa of authenticity.
The dictionary defines the term “authentic” as follows:
- not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.
- having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified: an authentic document of the Middle Ages; an authentic work of the old master.
- entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy: an authentic report on poverty in Africa.
- Law . executed with all due formalities: an authentic deed.
- Music .
- (of a church mode) having a range extending from thefinal to the octave above.
- (of a cadence) consisting of a dominant harmony followed by a tonic.
For the purposes of the “Authenticity Army” I think the first three parts of the definition are most relevant.
In the context of the definition I’ve realized that membership in this elite group doesn’t require us to be perfect, but rather to be authentic. Even an authentic antique may have blemishes and scars, but it’s those blemishes and scars that contribute to the authenticity of the piece.
I would propose the following criteria for the inclusion in the “Authenticity Army”:
- Has a belief structure that is grounded in the personal experiences (both good and bad) that have made up their life
- Stays true to those beliefs even in the face of adversity and stress
- Is open to learning and growth from every new experience
- Is open to learning and growth from the experiences of those around them
- Believes in the genuine goodness of people and strives to improve the lives of those around them
- Does what they commit to, doesn’t commit to those things that they can’t support or deliver upon
- Is consistent in all situations and with everyone around them
- Accepts their imperfections and consistently works to improve on them
I truly believe that authenticity is one of the most key characteristics of the true leaders of tomorrow, and your willingness and ability to live an authentic life will determine your level of success in all aspects of your life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the concept of an “Authenticity Army”. Do the criteria I’ve proposed make sense? Are there some I’ve missed that you believe are critical factors in being a truly authentic person? Feel free to share through comments or via Google+ or LinkedIn. Perhaps we can start build a network of truly authentic people who together can truly change the world.
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.