I recently received an email from a very close friend after sharing dinner together the night before. She said, “Laurie, after seeing you and even through today one word kept popping up whenever I thought of you: AUTHENTIC! Yes, that’s what you are and I wonder if you know how rare that is?”
I offer this example not as an ego trip but as a foundation for the following:
I have this thing about the word “authentic.” It’s been so overused. Calling something authentic doesn’t make it so.
My aversion to the word started about five years ago when we were creating a new web site and rebranding Laurie Burton Training. The marketing team we had hired recommended we use the word “authentic” as a part of our branding. Then, as now, the word was everywhere. I had come to hate the baseless use of the word authentic. I thought the word was pretentious, overblown and showy. If something was called “authentic” it was supposedly automatically worthwhile, but rarely did I find the true value of the word. It seemed a false representation of something that really had little value and needed to look and feel as if it did.
It was a word used to impart importance, like adding a beautiful topping to a poorly made cake. I never felt support from that word. It was like the words “awesome” and “amazing” – misused, abused and overused.
I decided to look up the meaning and here is what the Thesaurus had to say:
1 an authentic document: genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable; legitimate, lawful, legal, valid; informal the real McCoy, the real thing, kosher. ANTONYMS fake.
Now these were words I could relate to. These words represented the heart of “authentic.” These words represent an integral part of Laurie Burton Training. Now I can look at the word with respect and a more open heart.
I ask you to explore the authentic version of yourself. The real you. The person, you know yourself to be. Not some version that lives over and above you. Not some mask that you wear to make nice and get along. Authenticity requires courage, the courage to look into the face of change and choose a different path BUT BE WHO YOU ARE. To stop playing it safe!
My work is teaching people how to speak, present and communicate – many would rather face death than risk standing up and being seen and possibly criticized and judged for being inauthentic, uninspiring and dull. Heaven forbid that they should start to feel all that life can offer.
My wish is for every person to find the courage and the willingness to risk some failure. No matter how much a person can hide, life has a way of finding you, calling you out into the open for the world to see. You may feel naked, but I promise you as you stand there in your nakedness, totally vulnerable you will start to feel the power that lies in your authentic self. It is the center, the core, the foundation upon which we build all personality traits and skills.
How wonderful to be able to speak and be yourself!