Get real! What defines you, really?

Who are you, and what is really important to you?

How would the people in your life describe you and what drives you? Your spouse/partner? Your kids? Your friends? How would your colleagues at work – your peers, direct reporters, manager (if you have one), clients describe working with you?

How consistent are your answers?

Authenticity is a hot topic. Harvard Business Review recently published a cover article, “The Problem with Authenticity.” In short, the author does a great job of posing the issues, and leaves us readers to decide for ourselves how to define who we are as our world – and our roles in it – evolves.

Change IS inevitable. Think about the technology and environment that frames our daily experience. It is dramatically different from just a few years/months/weeks ago. How many of us have a camera, a day-planner, or even a land line that is not VOIP? We all have smart-phones that have infinitely more computing power than the lunar landing module.

How then do we remain consistent, authentic and effective in this new world? One theory you’ve likely heard of is Situational Leadership – originally a brilliant Ken Blanchard concept that has been (mis)used as a concept by many. In short, we lead differently in different situations, with different people. It has tremendous common sense: We certainly do not “lead” our board to make decisions in business the same way we “lead” our teenagers to make better decisions in life, do we?

With this mindset, are we then inconsistent and unpredictable? Most people seek consistent and reliable responses from their leaders. They want to be able to present ideas, issues and solutions knowing what their leaders seek, in general, as ways to communicate, decide and execute. So, sometimes, as the parameters of a situation are not as clear as we’d like, adaptive leadership styles may lead to confusion and disappointment.

We have core values and beliefs, then, right? We work to define these over our years – sometimes with great thought and effort – sharing them as part of our “way” of working and being. Sometimes they are defined by just being and doing, never codifying them for ourselves, our colleagues or our businesses.

Yet, things do change. Our roles change. The people we work with change. How can we operate from the same core values throughout our experiences, careers or lives?

Here’s how. We get to define every day who we are and what’s important to us. We can operate from fairness, merit, growth, stability, honesty, transparency, preparedness, confidentiality – or any words that move your needle of values and the value you bring to relationships at business or home.

You can change your behavior to adapt to a situation. You can learn and grow from your experiences and education. And, at your core, be real. Get real. Bring your authentic self to every encounter that matters to you. Your authentic self will shine, regardless of your situation. ?

Steve Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or email him at

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