My Thoughts on “Coaching the Whole Individual to Show up Authentically”.
I recently posted a picture of my business card with the caption "I have a dream that every South African will have the courage to show up authentically and present their whole self to all they come into contact with." This truly is my dream as I believe it will fundamentally shift the consciousness in our country as a whole. It will impact the way we engage with everyone we come into contact with including our families, friends, colleagues and even strangers. It will impact how we teach in our schools and lead in our organizations and alleviate a culture of fear which sadly often prevents us from showing up authentically.
In 'The Gifts of Imperfection', researcher, storyteller and New York best-selling author Brené Brown defines authenticity as "the daily practice of letting go who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are".
Brené offers some meaningful insights on what it means to cultivate authenticity in our lives, and I’ll share my interpretation and experiences below:
- Having the courage to not always strive for perfection, and to have clear boundaries in place that creates a safe place for us to display vulnerability. For me, this has played out by becoming more conscious and intentional how I treat others and how I choose to be treated. I’ve learnt that a gentle “No,” and “I do not appreciate your behaviour” are indeed ways to promote healthy boundaries as I continue on my life journey.
- Exercising compassion and empathy which enables us to truly be vulnerable and also admit our daily struggles. This often plays out for me when a friend or loved one is really going through a difficult time, and I can be fully present, without judgement, as I can identify with their experience in my own life, even though my circumstances may have been different.
- Believing that we are worthy of a genuine connection and a sense of belonging with others. I’ve come to appreciate that one of the greatest gifts I can offer the world is my smile. Very often my smile is graciously accepted by others and returned, even by complete strangers when walking in a public space. This heightened awareness has influenced the manner in which I live my life today.
I’ve learnt that we also need to be mindful that the ego (the mind trying to overpower how we should show up and respond) can often get in the way of us being authentic when we engage with others. When we choose to be authentic, we make a conscious choice how we intend to present ourselves to our loved ones; family members; friends; colleagues and even the stranger in the mall who might just be going through a really tough time.
Cultivating a daily practice of authentic living is also one of the greatest pillars to promote more joy, gratitude and contentment in our lives. It has the capacity to radically shift the way we nurture our relationships and reduce personal suffering and pain. Others may find this challenging at times, as it may create a feeling of discomfort and a perception that we have changed.