Authenticity is job security.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

I moved to Nashville in 2006 and immediately felt like I was out of my league. Everyone else had this incredible talent or undeniable gift. Me? I was a 24-year-old college dropout, had been living with my parents for the last 2 years helping a guy who didn’t care much about me run a “Little Engine That Could” gym. All I had was a motorcycle, some muscles and a deep sense that I wasn’t enough.

The other side of the coin was that I knew I was something special even if I didn’t have the words for what that something special was. I could feel it.

So I moved to Nashville and though I was kind and fun and an easy hang for folks, I was a liar. I lied to everyone. I lied to my family, my friends, in every job I interviewed for. This is where things get crazy. I kept a folder with all the job applications I filled out. I applied for 400+ jobs over a 6 month period. I can still run through many of the faces that sat across from me staring straight through my bullshit. Have you waited in a fine dining restaurant before? Yes. LIE. Do you have experience filing legal documents? Sure! LIE. Are you detail oriented? Well, yeah! LIE.

You know what isn’t a lie? That no matter who you are or what you think you know you can’t bullshit a bullshitter and we’ve all been bullshitters at some point. We all lie to ourselves to some degree. We all know what trust or distrust feels like, the key is how willing we are to call bullshit on ourselves.

The story gets way more intense when you throw in that I met a girl I was crazy about and throughout our short time knowing one another I had lied to her about some of the dumbest things every time I hung out with her. And I mean DUMB. I would take all the things she said she wanted and somehow convince her that I had them already or wanted the same things. She found me out and called me a snake and threw me away. My dishonesty had made me irrelevant and left me alone.

Very alone.

Finally, one day I sat down at a landscaping and nursery business in front of this nice red haired lady that reminded me of Angela Landsbury from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She felt like my grandma and I was more honest, more authentic with her than I had been with anyone in a long time. “I’m so tired of looking for a damn job. I don’t expect you to hire me because no one else has so why should you? I’ve never worked in landscaping. I don’t know anything about plants. I broke the lawnmower almost every time I used it and I even cut the end of one of my toes off once mowing the yard. So I’m not sure what I’m doing here, to be honest, other than that I just need a job.”

She smiled, asked, “Well, can you carry 80 lbs. bags of mulch and care about people because that’s all I need.”

No kidding…my authenticity that day would teach me one of the deepest lessons I’d ever learn. Authenticity is job security.

Now, I drove that stake into my heart by coming clean, face-to-face, with everyone I cared about over the next year. It. Took. A. Year.

I can’t tell you how much of a failure I felt like and sometimes still feel like a decade later. But that’s the beauty isn’t it. I can tell you the truth because I know that my authenticity is my value. If I don’t have anything else I always have authenticity. No matter how wrong I am, or how much I mess up, or inadequate I feel, my authenticity in those moments create security internally. And as long as I’m secure internally, I’ll always have security externally.

Are you tired? Do you feel like you are always waiting to be “found out?” Where are you bullshitting yourself? Trust someone with something you’ve been lying to yourself about and pay attention to the shift that happens inside yourself. Pay attention to the energy increase and the clarity you have afterwards.

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