Real Authenticity Requires Presence by Ipek Serifsoy |
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Real Authenticity Requires Presence


In our Women’s Leadership Circles (WLC) we often talk about the meaning of the over-used term ‘authenticity’. Does it mean “what you see is what you get”? Does it mean doing and saying what feels right? Or showing more transparency? Or disclosing feelings? Maybe – but not necessarily.

From our perspective authenticity and self-awareness go hand-in-hand. It is not possible to be authentic without knowing what is really going on for us, what is really true for us.

Until we stop confusing our reactive self from our true self we cannot be authentic and genuine.

We know that 98% of what drives us is unconscious! Does this mean we’re incapable of being truly authentic until we excavate all 98% of what’s really true for us? It could take a lifetime to get there! In the meantime though, if we’re committed to being authentic, we have a responsibility to consciously do our best at any given moment to tune into what’s true for us beyond our autopilot self.

Being truly authentic means we are on a journey of presence. It means we recognize that who we thought we were is probably just a small sliver of who we really are; that those habitual ways of being are just a constructed strategy that may have served us at some point in our life but is now outdated.

True authenticity means paying attention to what is continually unfolding within us – a fresh new perspective and response that presents itself moment-by-moment.

It means knowing our core self and how it is continually evolving in each new situation and moment. It requires immense trust in ourselves to show up fresh and fully present in each moment. It’s an act of vulnerability.

Brené Brown defines vulnerability as the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome. This is the capacity to show up without trying to control how others will perceive us, where a conversation goes, or holding on to what we thought we thought.

In many ways it’s contrary to much of what we’ve been trained to do – and certainly contrary to our ego’s and inner critic’s agendas.

While practicing authenticity applies equally to women and men, women in leadership often face tricky inner challenges. As women, we’re often told by well-intentioned male mentors to ‘just be yourself’. But who are we? Many of us have spent years, sometimes decades, trying to fit in to male-dominated environments shaped according to men’s ways of being. We’ve tried to consciously or unconsciously be ‘one of the boys’. How do we untangle from these experiences that have warped our sense of self?

Through the work we do in WLC we are actively finding ways to be authentic leaders and showing up as our best and truest selves; awakening parts of ourselves we may have discarded for not belonging and releasing parts of ourselves that no longer (or never have) served our authenticity.

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by Ipek Serifsoy