There is a lot of talk these days in regards to authenticity. I myself speak about how tapping into my authentic power was one of the key factors for me Redefining my “ROCKSTAR” Leadership. And as refreshing as it is to see more people valuing honesty and credibility over arrogance and perfection, the idea that you should own your story has led to some confusion.
Per example, if someone post their personal problems on Facebook does that make them authentic? Let’s look at the definition of authenticity. Authenticity is about being brave enough to be yourself and genuine enough to live according to your values. To be an authentic person, what you say you are and what you do must line up with what you believe.
I believe that somewhere along the way, several aspects of authenticity seem to have become warped. There has been an adoption of the idea that “being honest” and “owning your story” means sharing one’s deepest darkest secrets with the world. Growing up, my mother has always stated and been of the belief that she didn’t trust anyone, outside of GOD, 100% percent. She also said that you need to keep part of yourself back for yourself. And as much as I am a pretty open person, I agree 100% with that!
The difference between being authentic and oversharing stems from one’s intentions. There is a quote from Brene Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, that sums up the difference by saying, “Using vulnerability is not the same thing as being vulnerable; it’s the opposite—it’s armor.”
In observing people and behaviors I have found that there are 3 Top Reasons why people cross the line (sometimes unintentionally) from being authentic into being an over-sharer:
1. A misguided attempt to gain sympathy. If you share your mistakes in an effort to help others learn, you are being authentic. If, however, you share your hardships to gain pity, you’re oversharing.
2. An attempt to fast-track the relationship. Authentic people build relationships first. Over-sharers blurt out personal information in an attempt to gain a sense of intimacy, without building trust.
3. Your story still owns you. When pain is raw, it can feel like the whole world sees there’s something ‘wrong’ with you. For many people, that's anxiety provoking. Over-sharers relieve their anxiety by revealing their pain. Authentic people, however, acknowledge, sit in and process the anxiety and carefully consider whether it's good idea to share.
Before you share information with other people, think about why you’re doing it. What is your intention? Are you telling your neighbor about your family issues because you want to gain sympathy? Or, are you sharing it because she’s a trusted friend?
Are you telling your colleague about your health problems because you want her to understand how it will affect your performance? Or, are you trying to reveal private information because you want him to think of you as a confidante?
Clearly, there are times when sharing comes out of necessity. Perhaps you need to tell your manager you're dealing with an illness so you can gain time off for doctor’s appointments. Or, maybe you’re going through a divorce and you don’t have childcare in the evenings and your inability to work late will affect your team. After all, as much as we would like to we really cannot fully compartmentalize our lives. There will be cross over from professional to personal.
But before you share your personal problems, think about your reasons and consider the potential consequences. Remember you can still be an authentic person and maintain your sense of privacy.
If you are a CEO in your business or your career and you know that you need a coach or a guide in regards to Leadership, Strategy, Accountability or Team Optimization then you need to raise your hand. Let’s have a conversation to determine if we would be a good fit for each other. One of the ways that I continue to strive towards authenticity is based on how I relate to and serve my clients. And I would love the opportunity to serve you. You can go to www.coachwithronette.com to complete an application for a complimentary Discovery Session with me. You could also reach out to via my website www.ronetteclarkewilliams.com.
Ronette Clarke Williams is CEO of Optimum Productivity and the founder of the 4P (Productivity, People Management, Profitability and Peace of Mind) Movement. She is also a best seller author of, Redefining “ROCKSTAR” Leadership: Making It Work for You, Not you for it!.