In a society embroiled in bling, cash, ego, and status, we have lost our authenticity.
What does it mean to “be ourselves” anymore? So many are caught up in following the crowd they have gotten lost in it. How can any type of true success come from being a follower?
Followers are lost to their authenticity and are chasers of “status” and “wealth.” Followers are competitive, insecure, and consistently positioning and provoking to one-up each other. The stand-out successes we all admire are not in the crowd, they aren’t chasing cash, or being cool.
It doesn’t mean they don’t love nice things or indulge in them: It means they approach success from a different mindset.
Authenticity cannot be reached if you are only looking outside of yourself obsessing over ways to live in all the narcissistic traps.
To be authentic, unique, and individual, you have to know who and what you are, which comes through self-reflection. How can you know who you are if you are following everyone else?
Self-reflection puts you in a state of personal harmony, causing you to experience less anxiety. You aren’t worried about another person’s position because you’re confident enough to focus on your own. You have nothing to hide, which allows you a freedom to be yourself followers do not experience.
2. Have a healthy ego
Authenticity comes from your heart. In life always lead from your heart. There is nothing deep about being superficially better than others or having more success or money because all of that “status” is temporary and subjective.
When you’re authentic you have the healthy ego fundamental for great leadership, rather than the ego of an insecure competitor. To be the great leader of anyone or anything, you have to dig deep, lead with courage and practice empathy.
You have to be secure enough in yourself that you are able to lead while considering of the ideas and feelings of others.
3. Focus on possibilities
When someone is ego-based or disingenuous, they are always focused on themselves, the short-term, what they want, and how they can manipulate to get what they want right now. They tend to be reactive and to run their mouths to get results. They want things now in an effort to get them before other people. They are agenda-oriented. It’s all about them.
When you live authentically, you have no time to waste emotion on temporary and sometimes necessary setbacks. The focus for you is always long term and on what possibilities patience and hard work will garner when you continue pressing forward. You are relationship-oriented. The authentic leader knows certain battles must be lost to win the war.
4. Have good character
You cannot be authentic without first possessing a strong sense of character. This means you do not say things you do not mean, promises are not made you cannot keep, and you stay in a place of integrity in all of your dealings, in and out of work.
The reason people trust you is because you keep your word, you are not emotionally labile, and people sense they can trust you to be who you say you’re going to be with a sense of consistency. When you’re authentic, you do not take yourself too seriously and are able to laugh at yourself.
Lightheartedness is indicative of your state of inner wholeness. Those who follow the pack are always anxious because at any moment someone could steal their temporary glory, causing them to sacrifice their integrity to “win.”
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5. Have a clear vision
You think with vision, which always adds value to the people you interact with. You are able to help others realize their higher professional goals. You push yourself and those around you to consistently raise the bar for excellence. Self-development is pinnacle in your life, and you insist others delve into themselves in the same way in order to rise above the pack.
When you’re authentic, you experience fewer emotional threats to your ego, which makes you a good listener — even when someone else contradicts your views. You are more than willing to consider contradictory ideas with an open mind and change your opinion, if the argument make sense.
When you are a listener, you are a learner. As a genuine person, you thirst for the truth. When you are dedicated to the whole truth in any given moment, you live life in touch with your deepest and most profound inner parts, allowing you to be the full expression of who you are. This is what authenticity is all about.
7. Are transparent
Open communication is woven into the fabric of your authenticity. You are secure in who you are and combine honesty with empathy, which more often than not brings you success. You never leave anyone guessing or hurting because you’re transparent. You are able to appreciate yourself, flaws and all; making you self-confident and secure; not cocky and conceited.
Followers are always defensive. They are sensitive to criticism, easily threatened and offended, and determined to win others over to their point of view. This is the marker of their insecure self-concept.
When you are truly self-confident, you exude a sense of inner worth, assurance, and composure. You are unashamed of your mistakes and don’t hide your weaknesses. You have the courage to be who you really are.
8. Are open and consistent
When you know who you are, you do not hold judgmental attitudes towards others. As you evaluate the thoughts and opinions others hold, even those you do not agree with, you still place them under an umbrella of respect. You do not live striving to push others below you.
You are consistent in who you are, and have no need to satisfy someone else’s criteria to feel good about yourself. This solid foundation is what makes you consistent, and it is also what makes you so generous in your assessments of the worth of others. You aren’t fickle. You stick to your principles and are not easily swayed by superficialities.
9. Are team oriented
Being team oriented sets you apart from others. You build successful teams and give credit where it is due, sharing your success and achievements with your entire team. You possess a healthy flexibility: the kind that is free from resentment and abuse, making you unselfish. You love your team because you are inwardly secure, and so sure of who you are that any change you need to make for the benefit of the team is a no brainer.
Followers are so selfish, insecure, and out-of-sync that they get defensive and angry when confronted with the need for change; killing the cohesion of the team by highlighting their inability to blend well. Success in life requires constant adaption. Those who master this skill are headed toward success and contentment.
10. Draw upon experience
As you strive to live from a genuine place, you increase the likelihood of being able to live in the present. You have learned to live in more thorough and thoughtful ways, thereby creating less guilt because your responsibilities come first and leisure second.
You can draw upon experience to work wisely through each new challenge you face on your road to success, making you more confident that you will be able to handle whatever hardships your future holds. There is no better teacher than life. The leadership skills you possess have slowly evolved from real-world experiences and life stories.
This article first appeared on Entrepreneur.