I saw what authenticity looks like, and I felt it.
I am feeling alright today. Not as bad as I felt yesterday morning, but not as good as I’d like to feel in the morning.
Authenticity in business is really important. In fact, it dawned on me that the aspects of my career and business that have been most successful were ones where I know I felt and acted in an authentic way.
People say a lot of different characteristics are the key to success in business.
I don’t think there is any one characteristic that does it alone.
Hard work, persistence, passion for what you’re doing, hard work again.
But authenticity is certainly one of them. It’s hard to really define exactly what that is I think. It’s hard to be able to categorize and put some sort of constraints on something that is so emotionally contextual in nature.
I have a story. It’s a true story.
A few weeks ago I was by a friend of a friends house for a BBQ. It was a guys thing, and there were about 30 of us drinking beers, eating steak and smoking cigarettes. I hardly knew anyone there, and it was crowded up there on the deck.
Seemed like everyone was having a fine time.
The host and owner of the house has an autistic teenage son.
There was a Yankee game on the TV, but I forgot who the Yankees were playing. I’m not a sports fan myself.
Bobby, the autistic kid, was a huge sports fan.
I was sort of in the back corner of the deck, minding my own business, thinkning my own thoughts.
Bobby was standing up in front of the TV, following the game with ferocious intensity.
On literally every single play, whether the play went in favor of the Yankees or their opponent, Bobby would scream, jump up and down out of his chair, and weave circles through the crowd throwing high fives, bear hugs and exclamatory outbursts of, “did you see that! did you see that! no way! Can you just BELIEVE IT?!”
Bobby would ring his hands together with awkward intensity, he’d shuffle his weight impatiently from one foot to another. He’d bite his nails.
And sometimes Bobby would just explode with some other kind of anticipatory exclamation.
I watched this same scene play out over and over again. I watched Bobby’s face. I watched how there was a moment of expectant energy frozen solid on his face every time the pitcher wound up to throw a pitch.
I remember seeing his eyes going wide in slow motion the moment the ball connected with the bat on a three run RBI double that tied that game up for the Yanks.
I remember how before he wound up to leap into the air with all his might, he threw a sideways glance at his father and he just smiled.
That smile said, “pop, it’s all going to be OK, I’m happy here”.
I remember getting emotional seeing the reaction of an autisitc teengaer I’ve never met in my life.
And I realized: This is what a person does when he’s not worried about what other people will think of him.
This is what it’s like to say and act in accordance with what you feel inside your heart. This is what it’s like to express yourself.
This is what it’s like to see untinctured authenticity being manifest in its most beautiful form.
This is really how we’d all behave if we overcame the social anxiety that tempers our expressiveness and dulls our interactions. Sometimes mentally stable people also want to give a friend a random hug and tell them that we love them, but we don’t.
This is what it’s like to be authentic.
But it’s so rare to see. And it’s hard to define it when you do.
But people sense it.
Oh yes, people sense it.
Your customers will, your website visitors will, your vendors will, your employees will and so will your readers and audience.