Is Your Athenticity Creating Growth Or Stagnation?

By: MarkSilver
I have a recommendation for you for 2006: Take a risk and be inauthentic.

Authenticity, being yourself, is the foundation of your health, and the health of your business. But, it can also be a source of stagnation, and, eventually, your death. It has to do primarily with how many of us learn.

For most of us, we learn by "monkey see (or read, or hear) - monkey do." It's the easiest way I know to learn- we emulate someone else's (hopefully) experienced and masterful example.

And here's where the problem comes in: when you are emulating someone else's example, you are doing it their way. If it's something mechanical like changing a tire, not too big a deal. But if it's something more personal, like painting a person or writing marketing copy, things get a little trickier.

Artistic self-expression in the pursuit of an outcome is most potent when it comes directly from your heart, and passes through the filters of knowledge and structure that help to shape it. If you don't know how to handle a brush, it's hard to produce the painting you see in your imagination.

So what do you do? An early exercise for some serious artists is to copy painting styles of famous painters. If you are in school, then you understand that the process isn't undermining your authentic style of painting, it's helping you to develop it.

If you want to grow your business, you are studying (I hope!) all kinds of business skills: marketing, systems, money, etc, etc. But, you are probably doing it on your own, in a self-directed course of self-study, with some classes here and there. So you see successful people in business, and you want to learn from them. And, the best way you know how, whether you take a class, read a book, or just watch their business, is the monkey see-monkey do approach.

Except that the "monkey do" part of it leaves you feeling inauthentic, because you are painting in their style, not your own. And, I'm guessing that the fear of being inauthentic, of somehow transgressing your values, your heart, or alienating others, is keeping you in the "monkey see" but you are maybe holding back from "monkey do."

Those artists trust the process. You can, too. Risk being inauthentic as you apply what you learn. Apply it enough, and you'll digest it, and own it, and before you know it, you both have the learning, and your authenticity has returned.

There is a line, however, that you don't want to cross. How can you tell where that line is, and how to stay on the right side of it?

Keys to Inauthentic Learning

? The line you don't want to cross: losing your intention.

It's one thing to lose your voice, or your style, and it's another thing entirely to lose the 'why' of what you are doing. There is, of course, the big Why of why you have your business. But, there can be any number of little 'whys' for different actions:
- Need to make cash flow for the month.
- Want to learn a new critical skill.
- Want to experiment with a new approach.

Example: I recently took a fairly high-priced copywriting course. I noticed that my last few emails haven't sounded 100% like me, and I've gotten people who have emailed me about it, and some unsubscribes.

In the past I would have freaked out. Although I'm sad about the four people who unsubscribed in one day, I know my why: to practice new structures and styles in copywriting. My own voice feels like it has started to return with this newsletter, and, meanwhile, I've grown and learned. That benefits me, my business, and my clients.

It's when you lose your intention that you lose more than your authentic voice. You end up being led down a path you don't want your business to go down. As long as you stay wise with your 'whys' a little inauthenticity here or there won't hurt.

? Action steps ?
-- Pick something you've been wanting to learn from someone you consider a master (or at least very, very good.)
-- Pick an honest friend, or three.
-- Give yourself a deadline to learn, appropriate to what you are learning. A week? A month? Two months?
-- Use your friends to help buffer the not-so-fun-feedback that often comes when you risk being inauthentic in order to grow and learn. And to cross check your effectiveness with your authenticity.
Self Improvement and Motivation
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