Authenticity is often highly valued by our clients and ourselves as coaches. We like feeling authentic. We enjoy discovering our own integrity. And we soak up the power we get when we are being “true to ourselves.”
Authenticity is an intoxicating idea. It’s an even more intoxicating experience. For a self, there’s nothing more alluring than the pursuit of being ourselves, our “real” selves.
While the pursuit of authenticity may be a worthy aim in early adulthood, by no means should it remain as a center point as we continue to mature. As coaches it is important that we are not fully seduced by our authenticity. An unquestioned allegiance to authenticity introduces many unseen challenges for coaches. And, the unchallenged pursuit of authentic leadership, authentic relating and so on with some of our clients can be profoundly misguided.
Authenticity often can be found serving a distinct and autonomous self. And, as the ongoing flow of development surges forward over time this sense of self is to be out-grown, not served in unexamined ways.
When we are ripe for this form of development and when our clients are ready I encourage a few simple yet challenging steps.
1. Be suspicious of your own familiar authenticity. When you find yourself trusting your authenticity in an unexamined way, be especially suspicious of these more familiar parts of yourself.
2. Get awkward. Engage yourself (and perhaps some of your coaching clients) in ways that are new, uncomfortable and anxiety provoking. Do new activities or engage things differently such that you feel awkward, uncoordinated and clumsy. It’s good for you. And, it may be very good for some of your clients.
3. Be creative. Don’t merely do things that connect you with how you know to be creative. Immerse yourself in new and different ways of functioning. When you do, you’ll find yourself feeling awkward yet you’ll likely discover yourself to be more readily captured by a post-authentic identity that is innately creative.
About the Author
Harvard University Teaching Fellow
Leadership Coach & Author of The Elegant Self
Faculty & Coach, Integral Facilitator Certificate Program, Ten Directions