Musings from dinner on Sunday, August 26th
On Sunday, August 26th we hosted a dinner where we talked about authenticity. This post summarizes key takeaways from our discussion and acknowledges those who attended. Enjoy!
What is authenticity, anyway? 🤔
Authenticity is the act of being original, “true to one’s personality, spirit, or character.” It occurs when your actions are harmonious with your own beliefs and desires, despite external forces. Authenticity is the act of keeping it real, allowing others to see and show up for the genuine you.
Why is it important? 📈
Authenticity is important (to us) for two main reasons:
First — Live in line with your intentions.
It simply feels good to act in line with your own personal desires and beliefs. This feeling good can be the key to unlocking all sorts of good stuff: confidence, courage, creativity, a breakthrough in performance at work, healthier relationships, friendships, a more supportive family circle, etc.
A common misconception here is that authenticity means to “just be yourself.” That’s not what we’re saying. Let’s face it, just being ourselves isn’t always the best move — at least it isn’t for me. I have the capacity to get frustrated, angry, and in times of conflict I can shut down altogether. All of these traits are me, and at the same time, aren’t likely to produce stellar results in any area of my life. This works with positive traits too, like being always honest. Being brutally honest can be great sometimes. It can also produce terrible results. Why? Because being brutally honest or “radically candid” isn’t useful unless you communicate your truth in a way that lands effectively with others.
Thus, being authentic is about living in line with your bigger picture intentions, not your go-to problem-solving toolkit. Being super honest or getting super frustrated are both ways to handle conflict. They aren’t however, the most effective ways.
Let me explain what I mean:
One of my intentions at work is to serve early-stage entrepreneurs in creating companies with great leadership and a healthy culture. This is authentically how I want to spend my time working.
Sometimes at work, clients (entrepreneurs) aren’t satisfied with the service I felt was top quality. This can lead to frustration on both sides of the table. The key to managing conflict in this situation is understanding the difference between being frustrated and expressing frustration. In other words: you are not your frustration. You’re simply experiencing frustration and the quicker you express it, the quicker it will dissipate. Sharing that “I am frustrated and here is why” is both authentic and in line with your intent -
“I am frustrated because it’s my intent to produce top quality work for you, and I sense that you might not be happy. How can we resolve this?”
It’s true that the closer your work environment matches your own personal desires and beliefs, the better you’re likely to perform. However, it’s impractical to assume smooth sailing 100% of the time, or that you can “just be yourself” and everything will be dandy. The key is in finding great environments and learning to manage conflict in a healthy way.
Second — Let others choose.
This one was tricker for me to understand at first. It’s also an area I admittedly have too much experience in.
Being authentic means we give people the opportunity and agency to respond to the real us. Presenting the “fake” us means others are choosing “that guy” and it’s often because we think people can’t handle or wouldn’t like the truth. How boring is that? We’re basically saying “you’re not going to like the real me, so I’ll present this other fake thing instead.” This, as you can imagine, can lead to all sorts of unhealthy conflict and resentment down the road. The real us always shows up whether we like it or not.
Showing up inauthentically also creates a confusing marketing message and makes it challenging for people to “buy” us. How do you feel when you buy one thing and end up with another different thing you don’t like? People have marketing messages too, not just products and brands.
When we present ourselves inauthentically, we don’t give people any credit. We’re assuming and projecting what we think people will like, be okay with, what they can handle, etc. It’s a wack way to be.
I stress, this doesn’t mean being the “you” that gets frustrated or is always honest as discussed above. Remember that those things aren’t you, they’re just your go-to problem-solving tools. What we’re talking about is the ability to present people with your true intent and being okay with it. People can handle more than you think. And more importantly, you might find that people like the real you much better than the fake one. How good might it get if you could always present your real intent without fear?
Our purpose with Sundays is to give creative entrepreneurs a space to show up authentically and talk about real stuff, and thus this topic is especially close to home. Our hope is that people who attend our dinners and participate in our community can take what they learned and apply it to their lives — specifically their work environments — in an effort to create more conscious companies and work culture through leadership.
Here’s a quick practice to clear up inauthenticities and get back into flow.
Mike’s 10 Steps to creating performance breakthroughs:
- Where are you experiencing a loss of power? What area of your life?
- What’s the experience (story) vs. what’s happening in reality?
- What are you being inauthentic about? (What are you lying about?)
- What’s the impact of this inauthentic way of being (lie)?
- Create a new possibility for this area of life (a new way of being.)
- What are actions you can take starting NOW to live in line with this new way of being?
- Set an action plan. Create from noting, with language. Write it down.
- Share your new way of being. — with the people/person your old way of being affected, with the people in your community, people on the street, everyone and anyone.
- Have integrity around your word. Be your word. Do what you wrote down. And if you can’t, create a new plan and do that one.
- Restore integrity. We cannot always keep our word when we’re playing a big game. But we can always honor our commitments. (Circle back to 3.)
Paraphrased quotes from the group: 🗣
We now record our dinners so that we savor the learnings. This time around the recording came out pretty bad, so the following quotes are paraphrased based primarily on memory and what I could gather.
“If my heart isn’t it, I’m more likely to quit or make poor decisions. It eats away at me to do anything that isn’t aligned with my core values” — Nefaur Khandker
“I recently added to my definition of authenticity which is more than just being honest — it includes compassion. I gained that it’s sometimes better to take a deep breath, wait a minute, and then respond. You can’t always trust your inner beast and snap back right away.” — Ben Stein
“As an artist, I have to have an authentic relationship with myself in order to create music that others will relate to. If I’m lying to myself and what I’m creating doesn’t feel real, my audience will see it and it might not resonate. to the highest level.” — R.O.E.
“Sometimes the most authentic thing you can do is simply admit when you don’t know something, and illustrate that you’re willing to put in the work and take the necessary steps to get there.” — Ben Stein
“I’ve gotten a lot out of trusting my gut. I’ve also had success in challenging my gut reaction and digging deeper. We can choose to view both our initial instinct and the analyst as signals rather than truths and create our intent using both. They can both be authentic.” — Nikki Bogopolskaya
Acknowledging our attendees 👏
Anna Bouma — Photographer and Producer @ Away
Andrea Saloio — Entrepreneur & UX Designer
Ben Stein — Strategy & Future of Work @ Uber
Jordan Gross — Author, Entrepreneur, & Executive Coach
Justin Smith — Investor @ Annandale
Nefaur Khandker — Engineer @ Khan Academy
Nikki Bogopolskaya — Director of Strategy @ Foursquare
R.O.E. — Entrepreneur & Hip-hop Artist
Kareem Abukhadra — Entrepreneur, Student @ Columbia
Saarthak Sachdeva — Founder @ Prana.ai
About Sundays ✌️
Sundays is a growing community about conscious leadership in NYC and LA. We believe the world and its organizations would work better if people shared more. It starts with communication and creating places and companies that let people show up as themselves. Our members include startup founders, early-stage investors, builders, creatives, executives, and more. We gather at secret locations for dinner on Sundays to connect and have authentic, real discussions on a host of different topics.
To request a seat at the table, hit the link below.