Pulling Back the Curtain on Being Authentic
Unsuccessful actors perform different masks.
Powerful actors remove the masks to share the truth of who they and their characters are.
A powerful performance is an authentic one. Legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner defined acting as “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. Authenticity on stage involves the actor being honest with themselves, with the character they are playing, and with the other actors in the ensemble. Compelling acting is having the courage to be open, vulnerable, and truthful, performance after performance.
Your given circumstances aren’t imaginary. And you are where you are for a reason. What you bring to your team is unique and will contribute is specific ways to the group’s success. Your role is to recognize your specialness and allow your contribution to take the shape and the form true to you. Own your authenticity and share that truth with others. Start believing in and telling the story you want others to hear and retell about you.
Why is being authentic important?
Effective communication is not just a transactional brain dump of information; it’s also about sharing meaning and making connection. To communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively, it is critical that you connect with the ‘irreducible core meaning” of who you are, your situation, or your message – the Big Idea.
How to Find Your Big Idea
To find your essential Big Idea, think about your lived experience, your education, your hobbies, your hopes, what you know to be true.
Consider these questions.
- What is unique about you that leads to your happiest times and best performance?
- When, professionally or personally, do you operate in a way that feels the most real?
- What are your signature strengths and how do you use them?
Take these personal reflections and restate that information in as few words as possible. Turn those ideas into a headline (your Big Idea) — a short, engaging phrase that speaks to the heart of the matter.
Then investigate further to determine what you really mean. Consider and complete the following statements.
- My word means that...
- We want…
- We need…We believe…
Hearing my Big Idea, you would be…
- Surprised to know that…
- Relieved to know that…
- Proud to know that…
This is a process of self-discovery. On the other side of this process, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what your Big Idea really means and better ability communicate that understanding to others.
The performance you want takes practice.
Ask yourself these guiding questions to build your awareness of when you’re being authentic (and when you’re not).
- What are the three words that most describe me?
- What am I doing when those descriptions are most true?
Next time, we will be pulling back the curtain on Staying Curious.
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