Last week, I attended a workshop about how to create a compelling business vision and purpose. As part of the process, we were asked to name our core values, going so far as to narrow it down to one, unshakable value that we held near and dear.
Even when faced with a long list of lovely words, such as abundance, creativity, excellence, innovation, quality and winning (Ha – I’ll never look at that word the same way again – thanks a lot, Mr. Sheen), I found it simple to name my #1 value:
To be authentic means to be genuine. Trustworthy. Reliable. Truthful.
[pullquote]As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow[/pullquote]
And with regard to my work with introverts, living in authenticity means honoring your truth. Being who you are, 100%.
This is why the expression “fake it ’til you make it” makes me bristle. I’ve said those words, and agreed with those words, without really thinking about if they were true. Or even, if they were helpful.
We think that when we’re about to do something new, we have to screw up our courage and put on a brave face. The antidote to our fear is to fake it… smile, say that we’re excited/happy/optimistic/ready, and then jump. You know, “Just do it.”
And we’re taught that if you don’t feel happy, fake it. Smile, and you’ll trick your brain into believing you’re happy. I’ve tried it, and it works for a few minutes. But at least one recent study contradicts that conventional wisdom.
Scientists followed bus drivers over a period of time and compared the moods of those who engaged in “surface acting” (forcing a smile even when unhappy) and “deep acting” (conjuring up happiness from positive thoughts or memories).
The finding? When forcing a smile, “…the subjects’ moods deteriorated and they tended to withdraw from work. Trying to suppress negative thoughts, it turns out, may have made those thoughts even more persistent.” Conversely, when a subject tapped into positive memories, mood and productivity improved.
When we fake it, we’re not acknowledging or honoring our truth. And consider this: if you have to fake it, is that task or feeling a “should”? Is it your choice? Is it in alignment with your values? Is it honoring your personality preferences?
[pullquote]The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh[/pullquote]
When we fake it, we exhaust ourselves and drain precious energy.
So what do we do when we are facing our fears, or a dreaded task, or trying to climb out of a rut that we feel stuck in, or have to go to the big party that we really don’t feel like going to!?!?
First, we intentionally acknowledge that the whole thing feels icky. Scary. Boring. Draining.
Second, we say “AND” (not “but”!), and we do what the bus drivers did: we choose to “deep act.” We tap into what’s already inside us, what’s authentic, to pull us through.
This can take the form of feeling gratitude for the adventure or opportunity, or to learn something new.
It can be curiosity, shifting from “I don’t know what’s going to happen!!!” to “I wonder what will happen?” (and knowing that whatever happens, you can handle it).
It can be bringing up memories of a big accomplishment, or images of a loved one or your biggest cheerleaders.
[pullquote]We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves. ~François Duc de La Rochefoucauld[/pullquote]
Then, when we put on our “game face,” we are doing so from a place of authenticity. We’ve started by being transparent (“This stinks!”) and moved to changing our attitude and story, drawing from people, places and things that have heart and meaning for us.
Faking it is tiring for anyone, especially the introvert. We think we have to fake extroversion in order to fit in. In reality, introverts have an extroverted side that can come out to play when we want. Being highly social and outgoing – in our own unique way – doesn’t have to be fake.
Think of it this way: your core personality might be introvert, and you have the ability to introvert and extrovert all the time. Those two words are verbs as well as nouns. Part of your own self-discovery and awareness is knowing how you extrovert authentically. Being outgoing, social, gregarious, charismatic… these things are all relative, and they will look different for you than they do for extroverts, or your fellow introverts.
[pullquote]If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. ~Johann von Goethe[/pullquote]
So the next time you think to yourself, “Well, I gotta fake it ’til I make it,” stop. Reflect. What’s the positive energy within you that’s waiting to come to the surface and help you through? Can the smile, the courage, the optimism come from there, rather than being based on falsehoods? Can your natural extroversion – the part that can’t wait to share your passion with others – come out to play? How can you balance that with your need to introvert, to recharge?
Faking is a waste of energy, and our energy is one of our most valuable assets. Spend it wisely.
What do you think? Agree or Disagree? How do you conjure up courage or happiness when they’re not readily available? Are there times when we really DO have to fake it ’til we make it? And while we’re here, what’s your ONE core value?