Authenticity at work has gained traction over the last few years. It requires self-awareness and, ultimately, vulnerability. Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help you foster greater self-awareness and authenticity.
1. What am I passionate about?
What do you care most about? Don’t look for the obvious answer. Yes, you may be passionate about your family and your business but try to go deeper. What first popped into your head when you asked yourself that question? Make a list of the things you deeply care about.
2. What talents do I have?
List as many skills and talents as you can. Perhaps these talents are a result of specialized training or things that you learned in school, or maybe they come from an accumulation of life experiences or natural talent.
Self-awareness starts with being curious about your strengths and weaknesses, and provides an opportunity to examine what you’re interested in and separates it from what you’re good at. Don’t use “should” here. In other words, don’t write down “entrepreneurship” as a passion just because you happen to be a business owner and you think you should be passionate about it. Remember, this is about fostering authenticity.
3. Where do my passions and talents overlap? Where do they differ?
If you’re passionate about HR and you are a talented HR professional, then your passions and talents overlap. What if they do not? What does it mean if you’re passion is entrepreneurship, but your talent is really in, say, engineering? If your passions and talents do not overlap, do they complement each other? Using the same example, does that passion for entrepreneurship complement your talent in engineering in some way? It’s easy to see how they complement one another if you own an engineering firm, but not as much if you own a chain of retail stores.
4. As you examine your passions and talents, how do you feel?
Do you feel good about the places where your passions and talents overlap? Do you have a sense of pride and accomplishment? Or, do negative feelings like regret or anxiety come up? If you notice gaps between what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at, how does that make you feel? Dare to be honest with yourself and try not to judge your own feelings or talk yourself out of them.
5. are you motivated to take action?
As you look at your passions and talents, do you notice a desire to do something? Perhaps you’re remembering continuing education that you need to take. Maybe you are starting to realize that your passions don’t line up with a chosen career path. If your passions and talents overlap, what can you do to deepen your skills and further your passion? If they do not, what can you do to close the gap between them? Rather than think about grand plans for change, think about the next discrete action that you can take. It might be signing up for a course or speaking with an experienced mentor. Maybe no actions come to mind right now. Something may come to you later or may occur to you as you talk with others.
Authenticity and vulnerability
Do these questions make you feel uncomfortable? It could be that you don’t typically make the time to think about yourself in this way, and that’s OK. You might try more traditional means to increase your self-awareness and foster greater authenticity.
Take a personality assessment like the Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, or StrengthsFinder. Personality assessments tend to be a low stress way to increase self-awareness.
Talk to a trusted mentor or friend. Sometimes simply having a conversation with someone you know and trust is enough to increase self-awareness and authenticity. Do they feel authentically themselves where they work? ☸
(Erin Koss is CEO of SYTE Consulting Group in Eugene.)