What does authenticity actually mean?

There’s a lot of talk about authenticity across brands and as people, but what does that really mean?  The confusion comes because we are often caught out thinking someone is authentic because someone believes in what they say and acts in a way that is consistent with their beliefs.

By this definition, history has shown us some very authentic dictators and politicians that were passionate about their beliefs believed in what they said and acted in a way that was consistent with them.  Would we say they were authentic or just being true to themselves and their nature?

Authenticity is more than being true to oneself, it is about knowing yourself, taking responsibility for your actions while not blaming, controlling or manipulating others. I don’t think that can be said for any of the dictators or politicians that popped into your mind earlier.

A psychologist would say the more important part of the authenticity question is to look at the character of the person.  What’s behind what they say.

Positive psychologist Stephen Joseph PhD, and author of ‘Authentic – How to be yourself & why it matters’ has created The Authenticity Formula:

Know yourself + own yourself + be yourself = the authentic life

Dr Joseph reasons that if any one of these three parts is missing, it is not authentic living.  You cannot be yourself unless you own yourself and you cannot own yourself unless you know yourself.  These three facets of authenticity require us to have a deep courage, humility and the dedication to confront the truth about ourselves, in order to say the difficult things that need to be said, and when pushed, to fight for what we believe to be right.

Something to consider when you next assess a business or are looking at your own business values – are you being authentic or just being true to yourself?