Authenticity Is Your Secret Sauce: Life Is Too Short for Smoke and Mirrors

Written by Darren Kanthal

February 29, 2024

A photo of a man wearing a mask

Generally speaking, are you being you?

That was the exact question I asked my client Stanley the other day. And he replied, yes – generally speaking, I’m being me.

This was music to my ears and his.

Stanley was recently promoted to the highest level he’s achieved in his career, and he’s been playing with the idea that ‘”What got me here won’t get me there.”

After the promotion, he became stressed about creating and communicating his strategy, wondering whether the changes he was recommending would rock the boat too much, and also about who would be his champions and advocates to help execute the strategy.

But amidst all the stress – he was being himself. He was acting and behaving authentically.

This comes as no surprise to me at all – because he was acting and behaving authentically himself, even in the face of stress, he was thriving. The things he was stressing about turned out not to be all that stressful – it was more that he had unanswered questions and wasn’t exactly sure what to do. It was the unanswered questions that were causing Stanley so much stress.

To address and attempt to minimize the stress of those unanswered questions, we had a coaching session and identified the myriad of questions Stanley needed answers to, along with who to ask and what research was required to get answers.

It turned out that he wasn’t owning his calendar, and with ALL of the corporate meetings in addition to being new, he felt like a rookie. He also felt he was spread too thin. And most importantly, he wasn’t feeling successful – he thought he was failing. To address this, we uncovered calendar strategies to organize his time better, and Stanley was able to decide what action to take.

All of this reduced his stress.

And at the core – all of these actions played out in ways that were authentic to him.

How Being YOU Affects You

By being authentically himself, he got all the answers he needed, his stress levels lowered, and go figure: his strategy was well received. He found the very people that were going to help him with a myriad of things (including pivot tables!), and he was kicking ass!

Why do I bring this up? Why is Stanley’s story so important?

If you haven’t guessed – the importance of this story is Stanley showing up as his authentic self. The reality is, if you’re trying to be someone else or pretend you’re not who you are – I’m willing to bet that in the not-too-distant future, you will crash and burn.

Think about the introvert who pretends and tries to act and behave as an extrovert.
Think about the salesperson who’s forced to pour out spreadsheets.

The bottom line? Being you – authentically you – is THE secret sauce.

Why “Faking It” Just Won’t Work in the Long Run

A photo of a woman looking defeated while working in front of her laptop

This same theme played out with yet another client named Samantha. Sam, too, was stressed – she wanted to feel inspired so that she could crush her short-term goals.

Unfortunately, she felt meh, and her actions and behavior were lackluster.

As we spoke, she was convinced she could fake it because she thought she could PRETEND to be motivated and inspired. Samantha thought she could allow that fake persona to permeate her email writing and networking.

Even though that was partly true, and her fakeness did portray a façade of confidence – it was taxing. What would typically take her 10-15 minutes – literally took her 3 hours. At that rate, she couldn’t mathematically achieve the lofty goals ahead.

I suggested she sleep on it. And before she went to bed – I got a text that read, “I don’t like this at all. I’m going to stay authentic.”

Being Real Sets You Free

At the end of the day, we all live within our heads. Nobody in this world can possibly see all the things we do. Only we know what’s genuine and authentic – and what’s fake and bullshit.

If you’re living a life filled with smoke and mirrors and you act like someone you’re not – I’m sincerely interested in speaking with you. How do you do it? How do you keep your energy up? How do you remember what fakery you exhibited with this person and how different that fakery was with someone else?

How do you keep up with all the lies and fakeness?

On the other hand, if you’re living authentically to the person you are and adhering to your set of values and integrity, there’s not much else to do but show up for life, be you, and kick some ass!

It’s Time To Be Bold

In the whirlwind of life, the stories of Stanley and Samantha highlight a simple, but profound truth: authenticity is your superpower. Being true to yourself is good advice, yes, and it’s also the foundation of real success and joy. Whether climbing the career ladder or seeking motivation, the key lies in embracing your genuine self.

So let’s ditch the facades and celebrate the beauty of our authentic selves. After all, pretending to be someone else is exhausting and, frankly, overrated. Embrace your quirks, your strengths, your weaknesses – because that’s where your true power lies.

Isn’t it time to be bold in your authenticity, and let your genuine self shine through? After all, the world doesn’t need another copy; it needs you, in all your unique glory.

Remember these wise words from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Here’s to being authentically, unapologetically you – the greatest gift you can give to the world.

Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.


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