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Authenticity and Your Brand

Authenticity takes work. Oscar Wilde made it sound easy, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” However, as Adam Grant points out in his piece in the New York Times Sunday Review: Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice, being “too” authentic can backfire.

Grant shares the story of A.J. Jacobs who spent some weeks trying to be completely authentic by blurting everything that came to his head – unfiltered. He ended up regretting much of what he said. Jacobs fell into the trap of thinking that being his authentic self meant that he could sit back and let things happen randomly. His experiment did not end well.

As Grant points out, the fundamental flaw in the way many of us define authenticity is that we link it to a fixed concept of our inner “true self.” But our “true selves” are constantly evolving. Holding on to a static idea of what you “really” are can get you stuck in a place and point of view that neither serves you nor allows you room to grow. Grant offers an “old-fashioned” suggestion: Follow the advice of Lionel Trilling - start with our outer selves and bring the outside in. This is exactly what Personal Branding can do for you…bring the outside in. By creating an outward-facing platform for expressing your brand, you increase your chances of behaving and acting in a manner that is authentic in any given moment.

The key point here…being yourself, being authentic, whatever you want to call it, requires you to constantly take in and process external factors from people, events, the environment. The “everythingness” of authenticity can seem overwhelming. However, defining your personal brand offers a simple way to connect the outside world to your inner self. Defining your personal brand based on your essential values, goals, and dreams enables you to share your authentic self with the rest of the world by putting your brand into action and doing what Grant advises: “live up to what comes out of your mouth.”

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