Why authenticity is good for business
What can you learn about confidence and authenticity from a professional wrestler? Actually, a great deal.
I recently watched a wonderful TED talk from a professional wrestler whose confidence was shattered after the death of his biggest fan, his father. I saw many similarities between the wrestler, Mike Kinney, and most of us as business owners.
In his talk, he shares the point that it was only when he truly embraced the things that made him unique that he found the confidence he needed to be successful in the crazy world of professional wrestling. This meant putting aside all of his preconceived ideas about what he thought others wanted him to be, specifically trying to fit some kind of mould that would never let him be his true self. That takes real courage in my opinion.
All too often in business we put forward a persona that we think is what people want us to be or expect us to be. I did it for years (many, many years). But one day, I got a little exhausted of trying to be who I thought everyone else wanted me to be, and I accepted myself, with all my perfect faults and failings and embraced exactly who I am.
Interesting things started to happen. I often say I became a really good presenter when I stopped trying to be one. Now that didn’t mean I cared less, in fact it meant the complete opposite. I cared more, but was more discerning with what I cared about.
"I often say I became a really good presenter when I stopped trying to be one."
That meant not stressing about the presentation being technically perfect to ensure that I looked really clever. It meant looking around the room and seeing countless faces desperately looking for answers, help, support, encouragement – anything. And I could give them that. And I wanted so badly to give them that, to the point where it became irrelevant how much my ego needed to be fed, by people coming up to tell me how great a speaker I was, and the thing that became important was helping those people who needed it.
This has spilled into every part of my life. I probably don’t dress quite as sharply as I did, I probably don’t have as much attention to detail when I’m writing things, I definitely can’t hide it when I don’t want to do something and I simply can’t help myself when I feel I need to call someone on something when I think they are being less than honest. But I don’t do any of this in an arrogant way (well I hope I don’t). I do it in a very genuine, honest and loving way because I have the confidence that comes from finally accepting myself.
By now, you might be wondering where I’m going with this? To put it simply, I’ve realised that to be successful in business, to be successful in every part of my life, only ever really happens when I fully embrace all of my good bits, as much as the bits that are still a work in progress. And when I work to my strengths, and put all of this together to help people however I can, every part of my life becomes so much brighter.
My point is simple, yet incredibly hard. Embrace who you are, the good bits, the rough bits, the broken bits and the awesome bits. By all means keep becoming the best version of yourself that you possibly can, but that doesn’t mean you are broken in any way. People react in an incredible way to true authenticity – because it’s kind of rare. Good luck, it’s not easy, but it can be extraordinary if you are brave enough to try.