Authenticity Over Everything

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Far too many people go through life knowing who they are without ever finding the courage to be who they are. One of the hardest things in life is letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we are. It is understandable that some of the time we have no choice. For example, in my personal life, I prefer dressing in Carhartt pants and a shirt, Timberland’s, and one of the many hats that clients have given me. Although by day I am a speaker and author, I would probably not be well received wearing that “uniform” on stage to speak or signs books. Moreover, some people appear being religious when they’re not, fake specific interests when they feel the need to impress a person and do some of the strangest things to be liked or sway opinion. Some people even pretend to be happy when they’re miserable.


You Can’t Fake Authenticity

It is easy to lack authenticity and to “survive” from day to day in the shadows. I am sure we know many people who have more than one social media account on Facebook or Twitter and manage to be entirely different from account to account. Many hide behind fake names to snipe at restaurants or doctors or companies or others. Some survive on bullying or merely being angry, not realizing their cybernetic anger is consuming them.

However, a lack of authenticity need not be virtual but can be physical. It used to be called “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Haven’t we all known people who just had to have the newest SUV or go to exotic vacation spots they couldn’t afford or continuously boast about how much they spent on a new brand designer outfit for their child?

When people need such artificiality in their lives, they remove themselves from the real. With each false measure of their self-worth, they become less authentic. Even with the social media I mentioned above, being one thing to one group of people and then being someone completely different with another group does not make us more accepted or authentic, it disengages us from ourselves.


Exercise Humility

I have a friend who is a former executive of a Fortune 50 company. He made a high salary and currently serves as Chairman of the Board for a large financial institution. He has always driven a car several years off the current year and has always stated that he never saw a need to drive a fancy car. He owns a 2014 Honda Pilot and is perfectly happy driving it about town. His one indulgence is that he belongs to a beautiful country club where he golfs every day. Many of the patrons of the club drive luxury cars. It is rather amusing to see him park his $18,000 auto alongside vehicles four times the cost of his car.

He does not believe in flaunting wealth or competing with those who thrive on being pretentious. I might add that given his former position in life, we might expect him to be ostentatious but in fact, he is approachable. I have seen him in social settings surrounded by people of wealth, yet regardless of your stature, he is always pleased to talk with anyone and everyone. He once explained to me that he came from humble means and being real is an essential key to living a good life.


Don’t Trade Authenticity For Approval

There is an old quotation that I very much value: “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” It comes from an even older quote, from the Biblical Proverbs, in fact: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” If we claim to cherish friends who are all about their things, or only have a presence on social media, or as the expression goes, “Know the price of everything and the value of nothing,” who are we choosing to be in our lives?

Surround yourself with people that allow you to be authentic. Be humble and recognize that we are not on this earth to see how important we can become; instead, we are here to make a difference in the lives of others. Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity. Choose authenticity over everything!


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.