5 Questions to Choose Authenticity

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My intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life.

In the Academy Award winning movie Network, news anchor man Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch who won the best actor award for his performance), ignored the teleprompter and launched into an off the cuff rant that started with this:

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad.”

Toward the end of his rant, he went on to say:

“So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’”

I’m wondering if at some time over the past twelve months you have felt like screaming at the top of your lungs “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore”?

While I didn’t scream out at the top of my lungs, there were certainly moments when I just shook my head in disbelief at the decisions and actions of some people.

The rant by Finch’s character was a good example of someone who had reached a point where they had to ‘go off script’ and share their true thoughts and feelings.

An Authentic Rant

Arguably Finch’s character chose in that moment to be authentic – he intentionally chose an action that was aligned with his personal values.

The intentional choosing of actions aligned with personal values and goals is part of my current definition of authenticity.

The other part of the definition is holding ourselves responsible and accountable for the impact of those actions on ourselves and on others.

In fact, that part of the definition is simply highlighting what it means to be intentional in our actions.

An Intentional Rant

To be intentional requires of us to be mindfully aware of what we intend to do as well as mindfully aware of why we intend to do it. But knowing what and why isn’t enough to act with intention.

What is also required is a mindful awareness and consideration of how our intended actions will not only impact ourselves, but how they will impact others as well.

To be authentic requires us to be intentional, and when other people are making assumptions about our authenticity, and about our trustworthiness, one of the core elements of their decision making is their assumptions about the intentions behind our actions.

Whether in the workplace or in our personal lives, before we simply act in response to any situation, wherever possible, pause … and check in on your intention by asking these questions:

1. What am I about to decide or do?

2. Why am I choosing this decision or action?

3. How is this decision or action a reflection of my personal values and character?

4. What impact will this decision or action have on me in the short, medium, and long term?

5. What impact will this decision or action have on others in the short, medium, and long term?

And finally, (a bonus sixth question) apply the Light of Day test as follows:

With this decision I’m about to make or this action I’m about to take, would I make this decision or take this action if they were held up in the light of day for all to see?

Intention, Authenticity and Trustworthiness

The pursuit of authenticity requires of us, especially in the moments that matter most in our lives, to pause and be more mindfully intentional.

The more we choose to be intentional, the more authentic we will be, which will help to demonstrate and amplify our trustworthiness.

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