You may be surprised to hear that authenticity is difficult to express for a large amount of the population. At Endsight, this attribute is part of our DNA. We don’t accept less of ourselves or the people in our lives. And this mindset allows us to fulfill the remaining core values of Endsight and execute on providing premium IT service to our clients.
However, the unfortunate reality is that authenticity (bringing your you) is more often an exception than a rule in the universe.
The Pitfalls of Conformity
Many people are afraid to be judged for who they really are. Authenticity requires vulnerability, which opens people up to the emotional pain associated with rejection. Something deep inside our DNA desires to part of a highly functioning team and civil society.
In the book The Happiness Hypothesis, author Jonathan Haidt says that humans are a part chimp and part bee. Let’s focus on the latter.
Our “bee” part is sometimes willing to sacrifice individuality in order to conform to a group. This is why teenagers will violate their own morality to succumb to peer pressure. The idea of being ostracized from a group seems scarier to teenagers than drugs or other dangerous and risky behavior.
Altering behavior for the sake of conformity has another huge downside, it restricts individuals from true happiness. People who pretend to be something they are not, just to fit in, have a difficult time making meaningful connections with others. If they are accepted for who they are pretending to be, they will never feel accepted for who they really are. Close relationships will not form, and the absence of close relationships drains our soul.
Does Your Organization Value Authenticity and Vulnerability?
University of Houston’s Professor Dr. Brené Brown gives an excellent TED talk on vulnerability where she expands on ideas of courage and vulnerability she has developed over years of research in the field. Dr. Brown mentions that people are often afraid to be vulnerable, and in an effort to offset this feeling they try to numb themselves from it altogether.
However, it is impossible to simply numb this bad feeling. When an employee suppresses their feelings of vulnerability it will prevent them from enjoying their work. Furthermore, their lack of authenticity will make it difficult for them to make real connections with their colleagues.
Authenticity isn’t just good for the soul; it is good for business. Authentic people waste less energy on trying to be something they are not, and can pour that energy into supporting their colleagues, expanding their knowledge, and giving customers excellent experiences! Connected employees are more engaged, happier, and stay at companies longer. They find joy in their labor, and that flows through to the end result.
Companies can get in a rut doing the same thing year after year. But an employee that feels encouraged to be authentic, will feel more comfortable sharing their frustrations about a process that is not operating at its full capacity. It only takes one person to open up a discussion about an issue. And even if that employee does not have a solution, another employee might have been thinking the same thing but feared scorn and ridicule for speaking out. One employee’s vulnerability can save the company time and money.The goal should be to cultivate an environment at your company similar to that of a great university. Create a place where people make lifelong relationships, go through periods of great personal growth, and always feel a sense of connection even beyond their time of employment. From experience I am convinced that lifelong relationships and connections will only form if your company is a safe place for you and your employees to be vulnerable, to be authentic, and to “bring your you”.