My presentation in Nashville focused on the importance of authenticity and transparency in growing your brand and your audience. For simplicity’s sake, authenticity refers to the “what” that you share. Transparency is the “how much.” Different relationships and audiences require different levels of transparency, since putting EVERYTHING on the table may not always be appropriate.
For example, the post I wrote about my marriage last year took both of these things into account. The facts of the matter were the authenticity part, but because that story involved Neil, I needed to check with him about how much I could share. It wasn’t only my story, it was also his, and I needed to respect that he may not want as much detail as I could have provided.
Learning to live an authentic and transparent life is not always easy. When I entered recovery, I realized that to change the person I was and break my destructive patterns, I needed to do a complete 180 and live the opposite of how I was living at the time. This meant I could no longer lie or manipulate others.
Living openly and honestly has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Everything is on the table and I don’t have to worry about what lie I told one person so that I can make sure my stories line up when talking to someone else. What you see is what you get. It’s a freeing experience and one that I think is crucial to building lasting relationships and living with integrity.
Although my presentation focused on the blog world, I wanted to generalize this post and make it applicable in daily life. I’ve found these four things to be super important in living an authentic and transparent life.
1. Define your core values and beliefs
Basically, figure out who you are as a person. Figure out what you like, what you don’t like, what your goals are, what you stand for, etc. Also remember that people do have the ability to change, so some of these things may shift over time. For the most part, however, your core values and beliefs will remain the same.
Some people get this right of the break and some people are like me and take 30 years to figure out how they actually feel about things. When I was more running-focused, for example, I talked about the possibility of running a marathon at some point until I realized that I really just don’t want to. I felt much more at ease and confident in sticking to that decision.
2. Stay consistent
After you figure out all of these things, you need to stick to them. Wavering back and forth on subjects will give the impression that you are unsure and it can be confusing to people close to you.
As an example, I was recently contacted by a whiskey company who offered me a free bottle of their product in exchange for my promotion on Instagram. Let’s not even talk about the epic fail during the vetting process considering that I list “recovering addict” as the first descriptor on my accounts. Anyway, since I don’t drink and pretty much everyone in my life knows I don’t drink, if I had accepted a bottle of whiskey (where was this when I was drinking??), people would start to see me as unreliable and be confused about my actions and motivations.
3. Follow through on promises
If you tell someone that you are going to call them or hang out or any other type of commitment, make sure that you follow through on that promise. If you can’t do something, be as honest as possible instead of making up a lie or an excuse. The more flaky you are, the less people will respect you and again, that trust will start to chip away.
4. Share the negatives
There’s nothing like vulnerability. It’s extremely powerful and extremely scary at the same time. Sharing the good AND the bad helps people relate in, build trust, and sometimes open up in kind. Admit your mistakes or areas where you could improve, which also helps show a level of maturity.
People know that there is no perfect life, so by avoiding sharing the mistakes and struggles, you’re actually patronizing others around you. The more that you hold onto these things, the harder it will be to move past them and the harder it will get to reach out even if you want to.
- Are you authentic and transparent?
- Do you have any other ideas on how to achieve these?