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Being Authentic vs. Being an Ass: What Does it Mean to “BE” Yourself?

(http://brendonburchard.tumblr.com/post/114912499013/can-authenticity-suck)

I found this post through my Tumblr. and it was so fascinating to me.  Especially because I grew up in a culture where you don’t showcase who you really are.  I always had a hard time to understand what “being yourself” really means.  I have to admit I sometimes misunderstand being authentic from being fearful (→please read #2 below).

My life is my practice.  Everyday.

SUMMARY:

As the world threatens us at every turn to conform, to become mindless, to act as something we are not, like the caricatures  of greed and indolence on television, we must grasp tightly the value of authenticity. We must demand of ourselves that we act from our own truth and fully express who we are and who we wish to be.

But let us be weary: Not all forms of so-called ‘authenticity’ are… well, the real thing. Keep these points in mind:

1. Be Authentic, Not Abusive: Some people use “authenticity” as an excuse to be socially abusive. They say something rude or demeaning to others and then justify it with a flippant, “Well, I was just being real and honest.” No, you were being rude and oblivious. In each of our hearts there is an authentic desire to speak our mind but also care for other people. Being discourteous flies in the face of the divine drive for connection. Not all your interpretations of others – and your opinions are interpretations, not truths – must be spoken. The good news is you can always be who you are, authentically, without discounting others. You can be supportive, kind, inspiring, compassionate, and empathetic to people and still be genuine about your impressions, opinions, and ideas… when you are genuinely asked for them.

2. Be Authentic, Not Fearful: A lot of people use genuineness as a shield or mask. They exclaim, “That’s just way I am!” or “Don’t tell me what to do! That’s not authentic tome!” or “I know what I like and who I am – I just don’t like that!”  But there’s a difference between being authentic and being fearful. Boxing yourself into a belief about who you are and what you are capable of can diminish your growth. Being so “set in your ways” might seem authentic, but it can prevent you from learning, developing, evolving, attaining new skills and competencies. To learn new thoughts, feelings and behaviors means pushing outside the comfort zone of “me”. It’s requires focus, discipline, effort and habit until the uncomfortable becomes comfortable, until a new you, a more true you, emerges.

3. Explore Who You Could Be. If you are stuck in life because you are too proud of who you are, maybe it’s time to explore who you could be. Ask yourself, “Who would I truly be if I were more courageous? Who would I have to become to grow into my highest self? What uncomfortable thing might I have to attempt in order to stretch and attain my dream? Stretching the conceptual boundaries of your belief and behavior is how you open yourself to the next level of success.

You can choose to develop new ideas, skills, abilities, interests, and relationships in order to become your highest self, a person who attains greatness. When you do, you choose a growth mindset over a fixed mindset, push through your self-labels, and start to live what we call The Charged Life!

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Does authenticity ever suck?

Yeah! I think it probably does, once in a while. Good question. I think authenticity is so celebrated. Which it is, it should be!

Be authentic, be real, be the true you. It is the oldest and best advice still in all of life philosophy, personal development, psychology, neuroscience, happiness studies; you name it. It all comes down to, BE YOURSELF.

And that’s so critical in a world where it’s just constantly threatening for us unless we conform that when the world wants to make something of you that you’re really not:

  • That’s when we feel the pressure.
  • That’s when we feel tyranny.
  • That’s when we feel oppressed.
  • That’s when we feel so frustrated and trapped in other people’s expectations and rules.

That’s an awful place to be in. So, I think that’s the best advice ever. Be yourself.

My father who I lost to leukemia, many of you guys know, in 2009; that was his advice to us. Be yourself.

I love that.

It’s what made my whole career, my whole success with these 20 million people watching these videos along with you. That’s happening because they know that I’m just doing this. I don’t have a script, I don’t have notes. I get the question, I go. I have the note, I talk. You know, whatever it is. And so, here it is.

I think this idea though that authenticity is always a good thing—some people take it in a weird direction.

Be authentic and authenticity is such a buzzword. Some people use it as an excuse to be socially rude.

“Well I’m just telling you, I’m just being real and telling you how I feel.”

You’re like, “No, you’re being an ass.”

There is a difference between being real and authentic, and being an ass. And I think that’s really important to realize, isn’t it true?

Like authenticity, you want to know how people really are. You want to know what they really think, what they really feel.

When they act, you want them to know that’s our true intentions and true actions—not doing it for manipulative basis. We want to know is that, “Oh, that’s really who they are.”

But, it’s just like, you know what, someone might say, “Who I am is I’m a someone who doesn’t take a shower.”

And they show up at your house stinking. And they show up all around stinking. And at some point, you’re like, “Yeah, that’s genuine. That’s authentic. You stink.” But come one there’s also social appropriateness.

We live on a planet with seven billion other people. A lot of people, it would be authentic for them to say very-very rude things to people. To point out someone’s weakness, isn’t that being real? When someone is weak and hurting; to comment on it.

“Well I feel, my natural inclination, what’s genuine for me is that you suck at this.”

We could dash a lot of dreams by being super authentic and genuine all the time. I mean, there is this thing called social intelligence—the idea that we can support and inspire other people—that we can also be kind, compassionate, empathetic human beings.

Could you imagine if someone has lost their parent and you’re like, “Well, when I lost my parent didn’t mean much to me”. Because if you had that situation where you had a bad parent and you didn’t have a relationship with them and you could say … sure you could say that. It’d be genuine for you. “Didn’t mean anything to me, don’t know why you’re crying.”

That would be genuine for you but it could destroy them. It could be so rude to them.

So there is that appropriate thing. And I hate the word appropriate in general but I think it’s important when we start talking about the power of authenticity. It’s like yes,

  • Be genuine,
  • Be truthful,
  • Be you, and also
  • Be compassionate to other people.

Recognize that other people might not have:

  • The same journey,
  • The same feelings,
  • The same reality as you.

And if you can understand that, then you’ll know, well what is appropriate to share and not to share. And if you think about it, some of the greatest conflicts you’ve had in your life is when you said what was true for you but someone said, “Well that’s not what’s true for me.”

They had a different interpretation so you battled and it’s not that they weren’t being authentic and you weren’t being authentic. It’s that we interpreted things different. We have different values, different meanings.

And so, if your authenticity is this, “Well this is just the way I am.” And you push yourself to the world it’s kind of a little bit … immature.

That the other people are also doing their best to be themselves and we have to be honoring and respectful of that.

So, I think authenticity only really fails when we fail to realize and to accept other people and to be compassionate to other people. To never allow our authenticity or our genuineness to be rude or discourteous because I also think we have a lot of people right now, I mean, I don’t know about you but our culture has gotten incredibly critical, incredibly rude.

And those people would say, “Well, I’m just being genuine with my feelings”. No you’re being an ass and let’s learn the difference so that we can all be honoring and respecting of each other while we maintain our own individuality and authenticity.

I would say the second place that authenticity gets in the way of our lives is when we define who we are and we stick to it and we stop evolving and growing.

People say this all the time, “Well that’s just the way I am” and they say it with a great medal of pride after they’ve done something maybe wrong or after they’ve done something that wasn’t appropriate to the social context they were in.

“Well, that’s just the way I am.”

Or they say it like, “Well that’s not authentic to me.”

And what the reality is, it’s a challenge to them. It would require them to gooutside their comfort zones.

A lot of people use genuineness or authenticity as a shield, as a mask, as a thing that would prevent them from:

  • Developing and learning,
  • Attaining new skills and competencies.

And so it’s an excuse. “Well, I just don’t like that.”

Well, how do you know you don’t like that? Have you tried it?

“Well yes, I’ve tried it when I was nine years old and I didn’t like it then.”

Hmm…well…maybe it was authentic for you as a nine-year-old but you’re an adult now. Could we give it a try again?

It’s like, come on!

If you are stuck in your life because you are so proud of who you are, maybe it’s time to explore who you could be. Maybe it’s time to explore.

  • Gosh, could I learn some new thoughts?
  • Could I develop some different senses of feeling and presence?
  • Could I learn some new behaviors that may be with it push me outside my comfort zone where I don’t feel like that’s me?

But look every great growth that ever happened from every great person, they were required to do things that they didn’t want to do:

  • In order to attain their mastery.
  • In order to attain their degree.
  • In order attain their greatness.

Look, I never wanted if I went back to my younger self, I never wanted to do these videos. That wasn’t even in my mind, my concept. I was terrified of speaking. Public speaking terrified me like it terrifies most of the public. I would … if I had to present something in class in like middle school and high school, I was terrified.

But after my car accident, after I realized that we all get second chances in life and I wanted to share that message, I thought “If I want to share a message that inspires the world, I’m going to have to become a different person.”

And I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean that is we have stages of our own development.

I hope that you’re a lot different today as you were when you were 18. If not, unless you’re 19, I know you’re still at it but I mean come on if you’re the same person, if you haven’t developed:

  • Any new ideas,
  • Any new skills,
  • Any new abilities,
  • Any new interests,
  • Any new relationships

In the last decade then you’re not growing; don’t fool yourself. You’re not being authentic, you’re being fearful. And there’s a big difference between the two.

And I had to do that for myself. So, I’m not challenging here. It was the same thing for me. I used to say okay. Back then it would have been easy to say, “Well, I’m just not a public speaker.”

  • It’s just real for me that that’s uncomfortable.
  • It’s just real for me that I’m not good at this.

I wasn’t born with that so it’s not going to be a talent. No, no, no, no, don’t fool yourself. Everything we have learned in talent development is that:

  • It is about focus.
  • It is about discipline.
  • It is about hard effort and a habit over and over and over again.
Until those things that we find uncomfortable become comfortable. We learn to gain a confidence in things that are uncomfortable because we know we will figure it out. And if you’re not willing, it’s like, if you go look at your dreams—sometimes to achieve those dreams, you got to become the next level of you to get there.

And if you’re just like, “Well that’s not my style, that’s not who I am. I’m so authentic in my bubble of competency and reality today.” Then I worry for you and it’s time to have a different mindset as we learned from positive psychology there’s two ways to approach the world:

  1. A fixed mindset, and
  2. A growth mindset.

And that growth mindset allows you to push through your own self labels to say, “Who would I have to become to deserve that dream? Who would I have to become to move toward that dream?”

  • That is real for me.
  • That is authentic.
  • That is in-line with my values.

But it’s allowing myself to stretch myself to go there.

Because if you won’t stretch yourself, your concept of yourself, your own boundaries of belief and behavior; you’re never going to reach that next level of success.

I know that it’s not nice to say because I’m the inspiring guy on YouTube but let’s be honest with ourselves.

Sometimes we limit our own definition of ourselves and we call it authentic and real and genuine and what we are is scared. And we need to look at ourselves and say, “Okay, let’s go to the next level.”

  • What’s it going to take?
  • What new thing would I have to develop?
  • What new part of me would I have to find?

I had to find the communicator within. It was there, I never had saw it before but I knew if I’m going to deserve this dream of making a difference, if I’m going to get to follow my passion, to be a writer, and to be a trainer, I’m going to have to teach myself to do those things.

If I want to reach the world, those things are important to me. I better learn them, even though that’s not me now.

I would never have said, “I’m going to be the YouTube guy.” I never meant 30 million people to watch my videos in the last 12 months. I never have thought that would happen.

It happened because I said years ago, “This is important. This medium could be important for me to serve and to make my difference in the world so I’m going to challenge the style and the person who I am that says I can’t do this and I’ll become the person who can. It’s that important to me”

I hope that you’ll follow that same idea in your own life because the real you is a much stronger you than you probably ever anticipated.

Like this? Please share it with your friends so that your loved ones can stretch their conceptional boundaries of their belief and behaviors and reach their next level of success. – Brendon

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