The Cost Of Authenticity In Business
by Sian Yewdall
January 02, 2019
Are you willing to be authentic if it also means being vulnerable?
Authenticity is such a big-time buzz word now. Ask any business owner, entrepreneur or creative whether authenticity is important to their brand; let me tell you, they’re not going to say ‘no’.
But are you willing to be more than just the buzz word? To be truly authentic is an inherently vulnerable state, and for most of us (myself included), vulnerability is a VERY uncomfortable concept.
Authenticity? Yes please! Where do I sign up? But, vulnerability… vulnerability feels vulnerable.
Unfortunately, it turns out, you can’t have one without the other (you don’t have to take my word for it, Brené Brown is a reliable source on the topic). Vulnerability gets a pretty bad wrap and it’s become misconstrued as weakness, when in fact, that’s not the case at all. Vulnerability is about being exposed, open to the risk of harm. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as, ‘capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.’
To be capable of being wounded doesn’t equate to weakness, in fact, it often requires the courage to step into a dangerous situation, despite the potential for harm. It’s having skin in the game, entering the arena or putting yourself in the line of fire knowing there is no guarantee of a safe outcome. But knowing this doesn’t necessarily make vulnerability any easier. Being transparent. Being open, honest and real can be really confronting. And scary.
So, is authenticity worth the vulnerability price tag? And, how do you embrace authenticity as a business, vulnerability and all? Unfortunately, for us vulnerability-phob’s, being authentic is essential to your business, especially as a start-up trying to scale and grow.
Authenticity is fundamental in building legitimate, meaningful relationships, personally and as a business. Connection is a result of authenticity, making it a pretty vital ingredient in building trust and connection with your clients/customers. When you can authentically engage with your audience your message becomes magnetised, drawing people closer to you and making the leap from audience member or prospect to client/customer far easier.
Today’s consumer wants to build relationships with brands that align with their own values. They aren’t buying what you do, they’re buying why you do it, which is where the key to authenticity in business lies. Brené Brown says, “Knowing your values is essential to being vulnerable and being vulnerable is essential to being authentic.” When you stand in your values, those things that give meaning and importance to your life, you engage from a place of passion and purpose.
Clarity on your personal and business values provides you with a guiding light, a north star to help direct the way you share and engage in an authentic, passion-driven way. Being open and authentic from that place of purpose is still vulnerable, but it’s also courageous, affirming and powerful.
Vulnerability in business (or in life) may not be comfortable, but it is necessary.
By Guest Contributor Niki Hennessy.
This article was first published in Issue 2: The New Normal Women Supporting Women