“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” – Brené Brown
It’s probably accurate to state the majority of us value the quality of authenticity in people. It’s also accurate to state the majority of us disapprove of people who obscure their true nature by putting up a façade. How do we tell the difference? Who determines if a person is “authentic” or, well, “fake?” We’ll get to that later on.
Let’s try a quick two-part experiment. First, try to think of the most authentic person you’ve ever met. Take as much time as needed. Ready? Okay, let’s continue.
What do you value about this person? In other words, what makes them authentic in your eyes? Okay, let’s continue.
Psychologists correlate the attractiveness of authenticity to three things:
(1) We believe that people who are authentic are more trustworthy; in part because they’re truer to themselves.
(2) Genuine people often possess a sense of individualism and firmness, which we admire.
(3) Remaining true to oneself requires courage, strength and tenacity – all qualities that we find appealing.
How does the person you thought of measure up the above three observations? Probably quite well.
The truth about authenticity
Not one person in the history of mankind has ever been 100 percent authentic, genuine, real – whichever term you prefer. We’re all fallible – and there is nothing wrong with this.
But there are some people who’ve exemplified authenticity much more often than not. Odds are that the person you thought of in the “experiment” above is one such person.
The “answer” lies in self-discovery, continued self-improvement, and self-discipline – a journey made possible through the acquisition and application of knowledge. Fortunately, we possess plenty of the latter.
With that in mind, here are 10 signs of authentic people:
1. They Speak Their Mind
Authentic people are confident about their opinions and perspectives – and share them with confidence. Their thoughts are also well-constructed and, when prompted, are conveyed with both firmness and civility.
2. They Realize the Unimportance of Material Things
While authentic people may enjoy certain things, they certain do not base their happiness off of them. Furthermore, they do not judge an individual by what they have and do not have. Authentic people focus on a person’s character, not their bank account.
3. They Relish in Experiences
Genuine people realize the impermanence of life and try to live it fully. This means experiencing what people and the world has to offer – and they make every attempt to do so.
4. They Set Their Own Expectations
As apparent by now, authentic people are highly individualistic; they do not seek the “approval of others” and never will. Their beliefs, ideals, morals, and value are self-acquired and applied.
5. They Are Active Listeners
Genuine people exemplify the “two ears, one mouth” axiom. Active listening is listening without anticipating one’s response. 100 percent of their focus is on the speaker and nothing else. (Was the person you thought of earlier an active listener? Please share!)
6. They Acknowledge Their Faults and Mistakes
It takes tremendous fortitude to admit to your failures – and authentic people have plenty in reserve. They know their weaknesses and mistakes; but what really differentiates a genuine person is they take necessary action to correct them.
7. They Take Personal Responsibility
This one really doesn’t need to be said, but here it is. Authentic people are hold themselves accountable to what they do and don’t do. They are very responsible for many reasons, including the self-empowerment and pride that comes from being answerable to themselves.
8. They Make Their Own Way
Genuine people are not a “sit back and wait” group. They find a way to make things happen, regardless of the sweat, blood and tears required. Further, the path they set for is their own – something that requires grit, determination, and…
9. They Aren’t Scared of Failure
How many of us would love to say, “I’m not scared to fail”? (Raises hand and nods head.) Part of being a truly authentic person is acknowledging the possibility of failure, looking it in the face and not blinking. Whew…easier said than done.
10. They Aren’t At All Judgmental
Perhaps of all the wonderful traits listed, this last one may be the most admirable. Genuine people can wholeheartedly and honestly accept individuality precisely because they are different. Authentic people are often very smart – and are able to see right through the pointlessness of preconceived expectations and human stereotyping.