How to Be More Authentic
Okay, here’s how I’ve tried to be a little more authentic. But first, this:
You are and always will be a combination of the things you take in. The idea you can be one “authentic,” unchanging being forever is ludicrous. As a matter of fact, if you try to do that, you will then become inauthentic, a mere caricature of your actual self. (Think Season 10 Cheers characters as opposed to Season 1–3)
Who would you define as “authentic?” Bob Dylan? The guy had tons of influences and might have been the most cultivated artist of all time.
Tim Ferris? He’s talked about running the title of 4-Hour Work Week through multiple focus groups. Does that sound “authentic” to you?
I copy people all the time. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. When I like how James Altucher sets up an idea, I try to do the same. When I read a vivid scene by John Green, I pull that imagery into my non fiction.
There is nothing new under the sun.
Except for you.
Your unique combination of biology is the only thing that has never existed on the planet before. You can never hope to be completely “authentic.” You can only hope to say:
“Here is the world as well as I understand it.
Now do you understand?”
With that in mind, try these strategies:
~~ 1) STOP TALKING ~~
Every time you open your mouth to respond, close it instead.
Think “why was I about to say that?” Deconstructing your thoughts can help you understand where your influences are coming from. Odds are when you pause before you speak, you’ll hate 50% of the things you were going to say.
When you decide to speak again, you can do so with power, feeling the weight of each word you release.
~~ 2) WRITE DOWN YOUR MEMORIES ~~
The only truly authentic thing we have on this planet is our own story. You were the only person in the world born at the exact time, with the exact parents, and in the exact location you came into being.
From the second you emerged, you have seen the world in an entirely different way as everyone else on the planet.
As you write, you’ll start to recognize patterns. You’ll strong attachment to where you came from and maybe, just maybe, where you are going.
~~ 3) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE LIKE YOU ~~
Most everyone has heard the quote by Jim Rohn:
“You are a combination of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
Fewer people act this out.
That’s because people are hard to deal with. What if one of the people we hate spending time with is your mom? What if it’s your spouse? What if we can’t find anyone we like?*
Selecting your people is not always fun. It’s actually a lot of work. But the more you intentionally select your crowd, the easier it is to construct your own authenticity.
*By the way there’s no excuse for not finding people you like. The Internet has eliminated geography as a reason for that*
~~ 4) SPEND AT LEAST 20% OF YOUR TIME ON YOUR INTERESTS ~~
I am sure you’ve had this experience before.
At the start of a new job, you are eager to please your new manager. (Very eager, as the paycheck is likely going to keep you from eating Mac & Cheese for breakfast).
You consume every task that’s thrown at you.
“There is no job too big for this new guy!” they say.
3 months later, when the shine has worn off and you’re settling in, you’ll realize:
You don’t care about anything you’ve been doing.
In a world where many people just drift around allowing others to guide them, your cultivation of self is critical.
If you don’t know your interests, ask these questions:
- What would I do if nobody paid me?
- What did I like to do as a kid?
- What things make me lose track of time?
- How can I directly improve the lives of those around me?
- Whose life would I like to mimic?
Once you figure out these interests, make them a non-negotiable part of your schedule. Anyone can do a job. Your quirks make you who you are.
(By the way, your interests don’t have to be passions. Passions have a lot of baggage.)
~~ 5) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH YOUR OPPOSITES ~~
Two words to support this point:
After a hard-fought (and kind of insane) election, old Abe took office and immediately filled his cabinet with members of the opposite political party.
Can you imagine if that happened today?
Picture this. Instead of yes men, you are surround by folks who are almost diametrically opposed to you in every facet. With every decision your motives are questioned. With every opinion you are forced to clarify why you hold it.
Do you think you might have a strong sense of self after you came out of that?
Surprise! Here’s this: