22 Aug Authenticity and Inclusion: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Authenticity and inclusion have become well-worn buzz words these days, especially in organizational settings. Yet there is some mystification about what they really mean and how to attain them. So here is a perspective that might be helpful – and that shows how we can attain both with the same means.
Let’s start by looking at what inclusion means. Its root word – include – means creating a climate where we and others feel included. A natural extension of this means we feel like we belong, we feel welcomed and invited – despite our differences or whether we make mistakes.
Thus, an inclusive environment is one that is safe and encourages everyone to show up fully; an environment that provides courage for everyone to participate wholeheartedly.
It’s helpful to also look at the opposite of inclusion – exclusion – to gain further understanding. When we’re excluded, we’re dismissed – we’re not wanted, valued, appreciated, or cared about. In an extreme sense we’re ostracized.
Being excluded is a very painful experience that we seek to protect ourselves from by shutting down.
This deprives the collective group we’re a part of from a piece of the puzzle that only we can contribute.
Now let’s take a closer look at what authenticity means and how to cultivate it – yes, it requires cultivating! Authenticity means being genuine and real, but unlike it’s common misunderstanding, it’s not ‘what you see is what you get’ or ‘just be yourself’.
Authenticity has two interrelated elements. One has to do with wholeness – of knowing and embracing disowned parts of ourselves. The other has to do with operating from our true self versus our autopilot self. Both of these elements require a bit of excavating.
We tend to be driven by a sense of self that we’ve spent many years constructing in order to feel safe, successful, loved, valuable, etc. This self, manufactured by the ego and super ego, determines how we navigate the world and how we strive to be seen. Along the way, we lose touch with our true self as our egoic operating strategies fortify our autopilot self.
As we move further away from our true self we become more prone to seeing through biased and distorted lenses that constrict our sense of what belongs and is valued, both within us and around us.
We adopt a narrow mindset where certain ways of being, looking, and thinking gain superiority over vast parts of ourselves and others.
Of course the large majority of this happens unconsciously – thus the term unconscious bias. This biased perspective causes us to sort some things, people, and views as inferior and others as superior.
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Moving into authenticity requires a counterintuitive process of coming back home to ourselves. It requires learning to see, accept and allow disinherited parts of ourselves.
And it requires that we do this with immense self-compassion as we come into contact with both our greatest gifts and the hardest to own aspects of ourselves – parts that at first glance might feel scary, humiliating, vulnerable, or weak.
Tying together authenticity and inclusion we see how these concepts support one another and depend on us doing our inner work. Authenticity supports inclusion by widening the range of what we find acceptable; Inclusion supports authenticity by inviting us to be all of who we really are.
The key to attaining both lies in doing our inner work so we can see with clear eyes and engage with open, undefended hearts. In doing so, we begin waking up from the trance of our ego-induced personalities and begin stepping into both greater authenticity and inclusiveness. This mission is at the heart of our work at Deep Coaching Institute (DCI)!
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by Ipek Serifsoy