New Hampshire And The Lesson Of Authenticity
February 16, 2016
Once upon a time in my programming career, I hired a new morning show from a small market. The deciding factor in the search was the sense of authenticity that came across in their demo. They were simultaneously fun, silly, passionate, compassionate, your best friends that wanted to elevate you, and the friends who were a little insecure and needed some reassurance. You know, all of the multitudes that embody human beings. They were willing to open up and share ALL of themselves with the audience.
After they had been on a couple of weeks, a programming person higher up the food chain than me complained that the show wasn't "hip" enough.
Being forever skeptical of radio's tendency to make 50-year-old white men the "arbiters of hip" as it pertains to attracting millennial females, my response was "Isn't what's really hip just being yourself?"
Fast forward to last Tuesday night, and you could see this concept play out in the New Hampshire primary.
Bernie Sanders is 74 years old. There is nothing about his rumpled appearance that would suggest he would appeal to young voters. He doesn't have the same silky smooth speaking style like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton before him. He generally looks like the kind of guy who would yell at kids to "get off of the damn lawn."
Meanwhile, Donald Trump's demeanor isn't exactly "Presidential." He's the GOP equivalent of the shock jock, calling a female journalist a "bimbo" on Twitter and indirectly calling Ted Cruz the "P-Word" at a campaign rally. He's on his third marriage and many consider him to be a bigot, a misogynist, and a flat out racist.
Yet, both Bernie and Trump, for better and worse, are authentic. Their decisive primary wins, once thought to be completely impossible, further demonstrate that we live in an age where authenticity matters more than image.
So why then are so many of us obsessed with image? Why are we a culture that has lost ourselves in social media? Why has our life become a race to get the most Instagram likes as we spend hours manufacturing and carefully filtering photos that show the world only the parts of ourselves that we want to project?
We tend to look at authenticity as a personality trait that some people are born with, while others aren't. Yet, the best definition comes from Brene Brown
Authenticity is actually a collection of choices, choices that we make every day. It's the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
And it's not always an easy choice to make. From an early age, we are taught by our parents, teachers, and clergy about who we should be and how we should act. One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The premise is that 99% of the belief systems that we carry as adults don't belong to us. They are beliefs that we were taught by others and made an "agreement" with.
For many air talents, finding a sense of authenticity on the air can be a struggle when you are getting only a handful of ten second talk breaks an hour and you are being asked to use it to drive web hits, app downloads, or sponsorship mentions.
Yet, the only format clock that you need to follow in your personal life is the one that you create. You can speak up and express yourself whenever you wish. That doesn't mean that others will always agree. In fact, you only need to look at the comments section on any internet article to realize there will always be people lined up waiting to tell you that you're "wrong."
But as I continue to work with more clients who suffer from having lost all connection to who they really are, I realize that the far greater danger lies in continuing to play it safe. You can suppress your unexpressed ideas and contributions that you have to share with the world, but they won't go away. They lay there, under the service, eating away at you and affecting your sense of connectedness.
So try it today. If you find a moment where there's an urge to hold back when what you really want is to be free, make a new choice. Speak your truth with sincerity, honesty, and most importantly, love and respect (don't confuse being authentic with being an A-hole). See how it feels. If it's empowering, do it again and again.
Or you could continue to be what other people have programmed you to be. Ask Marco Rubio how that worked out for him in New Hampshire.
Join me this Thursday, February 18th at 730pmEST for a free teleseminar on how to "Download Your Dreams." I will show you how to create an awesome vision for your life and the tools that helped me manifest a goal of becoming a Huffington Post Contributor in only 2 days. Can't make the live event? Don't worry. I will send a link to the recording within 24 hours