In addressing an audience of Harvard alumni and graduates, Oprah Winfrey said, “As a young girl from rural Mississippi I learned long ago that being myself was much easier than pretending to be Barbara Walters…. I can be a much better Oprah than I can be a pretend Barbara.”
There are many elements that go into creating and growing a successful business, but none of them will take you as far as you’re capable of going without authenticity. Your business identity, or brand, will thrive in proportion to how rooted it is in who you really are, and how clearly you communicate that.
An authentic brand with a consistent message or story sets you apart from the crowd (and above it!); it also steers the conversation about your business, making it easy for you to talk with clients about who you are and what you offer, and easy for clients to talk to possible referrals about you.
There are five key elements for being true to yourself for authentic business success:
- Follow your heart. Do something you're passionate about. Identify your 'why' and be ready to share the story behind it. My why is giving women a voice so they can make an impact. What’s yours?
- Stand up for what you believe in. Be vulnerable and share your message. In Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brené Brown writes, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” If you want to authentically connect with your clients, you have to allow yourself the vulnerability of showing up as you.
- Don't change your core beliefs or values for anyone. Don't try to please everyone. First of all, it’s not possible. But more importantly, bending your core values to please a client or make a sale is like knocking down a load bearing wall to expand a closet: short term and superficial benefit at the expense of the foundation. Be true to your message. You’re worth it, and so are your clients.
- Don't compare yourself to others or try to be just like them. You know how Oprah came to the realization that it was easier to just be herself than pretend to be Barbara Walters? By pretending to be Barbara Walters and feeling how inauthentic that was for her. As a young woman working in television news broadcasting, she idolized Walters, copying the famous journalist’s mannerisms—until she caught herself speaking with Walters’ unique pronunciation and cracked herself up on live TV. From that point on, she let her own personality shine through, and went on to tremendous success. You, too, will attract your ideal audience if you embrace your uniqueness. There is only one of you.
- Nurture your highest and best self. Take time to discover what your picture of yourself at your best really looks like. What decisions would your future, fully-actualized self make? How would you behave? Once you have that picture colored in with beautiful detail in your mind, ask yourself what you need to learn or start doing to improve and step into that potential more fully.
Authenticity is a way of life and business for Success Connection member Terree Yeagle of The Moment Photography. “In my experience, being my true self in all aspects of my life and sharing who I am, what I know, think, and feel has allowed folks in my circles to trust me,” she says. “It's very easy to do business with those we know and trust. The greatest benefit to being authentically oneself though is contentment, it feels amazing to be real. When people respond to your truth, it's icing on the cake!”
If you want to attract clients who are a perfect fit for you, don't deprive the world of your unique personality and gifts--take off the mask and be yourself. Your clients will be happier for it, and so will you.
If you need help sharing your story so you can start making a real impact with your work, let's work together one-on-one to fast-track your market leadership goals. Learn more HERE.