EMBRACING AUTHENTICITY

In today’s world of ‘reality’ television, Instagram, Facebook, Cat Fishing and all the other business that we as humans can’t help but subscribe to – being your true authentic self is more important than ever.

In an interview – realistically a false environment, it is hard to properly show your true self. First of all, you are more than likely nervous. And we all know how nerves can sometimes make us behave, usually far different from who we are. As a candidate we are trying to impress, to wear our best, to say what we think the interviewer wants to hear and to seem enthused about the role we’ve applied for, even if we are not 100% sold.

How with all this pressure and stress to perform, does the flicker of who you are, truly light up the room? How will you stand out and let your personality shine through?

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” These words from Dr Zeus really resonate with me.

It is simple…In order to be heard and truly listened to, you need to be you. Yes of course you need to be professional, and appropriate but authenticity is key to a successful interview. Everyone can ‘fake it till you make it’ but the problem is that interviewers can feel that something is not sitting right, that there is an unease, a malaise, an uncertainty. When you relax, and let you shine through, you will feel more confident and you will ultimately be true to yourself.

As someone that interviews candidates every day, I can tell you, it is a relief to see people be authentic. To see someone relax, open up and to say what they really want, what they are good at and where they see themselves, what their passion is and who they are is a blessing.

In the end, we are all people and everyone that I have come across just wants to be happy doing what they do. There is pressure in society to feel or try to be perfect. To try and fit in and to feel perfect in other people’s eyes.

Sometimes we forget that we are also interviewing, it takes two to tango. Both the candidate and the employer need to feel comfortable and feel there is a fit. If one does and the other does not, it’s not going to work. As a candidate, it is equally important to have questions, to be inquisitive, to find out if the environment, culture and role is fitting with your morals, inner values and raison d’etre. It’s no longer the case that the skills for the job are all that’s required and that’s that. A job is much more than just the task at hand, it’s also about the team, environment, culture, longevity and again being given the space to be you. When you spend so much time at work, it’s a lot more palatable when you’re actually enjoying it, and enjoying the people around you.

Moral of the story – Be your authentic self, comfortable in your own skin – don’t fight it or cover it up – your uniqueness is your super power.

Firstly, teaching is a slight exaggeration. I was assisting a couple of teachers and was assigned the forward roll station. Naturally, I did extensive research before helping at my daughters’ school. I’m no couch potato but I must admit it has been a few years since I last did a forward roll so of course, I watched a few YouTube videos for pointers. It was great to get out of the office and partake in something different. Teaching is leadership of youth. After the day I left wondering who learnt more? The boys and girls or me!?

It was a great reminder that firstly you need great patience and understanding to lead a large group. Everyone is different from the little girl who knew it all and didn’t need tips on how to perfect her forward roll. To the boy who would rather just charge around and be in his own creative space. To the little boy who was frozen with fear, fear of getting it wrong, fear of being worse than everyone else. To the little girl who listened to every word and did her best to replicate and then look for praise. Those little boys and girls will grow up but will still ultimately look for the same from their workplace. As we grow up we learn to adapt and grow, we learn to manage these feelings but that doesn’t mean we aren’t those little boys and girls inside, each different, each needing different interactions.

Communication is key. You need to sometimes demonstrate, you sometimes need to repeat, you always need to be clear. You can’t assume that everyone immediately will understand the directions. You can’t just explain what you need to do, you absolutely must explain WHY. It cannot be just words, it is tone and delivery too. The communication must have participation and be a two-way street. Then you need to listen, observe and respond.

If you make things fun, no matter how daunting and challenging or on the flipside repetitive and simple, your team will follow. If you are willing to do it yourself, people will follow. In 40 minutes with a group of 30 children, I learnt so much about my leadership style, the good and the bad. At times I am that little girl who knows it all, I am that little boy who wants space to be creative, I’m also that little boy who is afraid and I also am definitely at times that little girl who wants to be praised.