Authenticity is one of my core values. It aligns closely with my other core values and is an integral part of my being. Authenticity is my own personal non-negotiable. It’s the visible and inner consistency that I hold myself able to, in both my personal and professional roles and it’s a value I recognise and greatly admire in others.
Authenticity is about deeply knowing yourself, owning your strengths and your vulnerability, showing up, serving yourself and others to the best of your ability and being true to your values.
I think you have to be strong to be authentic. You have to commit and invest time in understanding yourself and to the ethics you hold true. Consider this: a life time of experiences, and other people’s opinions and beliefs will shape your own authenticity. This may lead you to perpetuate your own misinformed beliefs which can manifest in unconscious (and possibly ignorant) learned behaviours and a misalignment with your own core values. Simply put, a lack of understanding about yourself does not serve you, or others well!
The last few years have challenged me to learn about and develop myself, and have allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin and in my own mind. Diverse experiences have enabled me to align my core values and embrace who I am. I embrace and accept my vulnerability, it’s a tool to make me stronger.
Like everyone, I have experienced setbacks and hardships, breakthroughs and deep joy, in both leadership and in my personal life. One source of joy for me was becoming a Headteacher in July 2019. This is a role to which I bring my true self to the front line. Headship is not for the faint – hearted!! I find it uncomfortable to ‘wear a professional mask’ to work and I’m truly a ‘heart on sleeve’ person, and so I’m a genuinely transparent leader. To look at, I’m not the stereotypical headteacher you see on the Google images! My hair is short and shaved on one side, I have tattoos and a sense of style that is perhaps not what is often expected. But I am happy to challenge the Headteacher typecast! I don’t need to wear a professional mask because I am a professional.
There’s a danger that when you mask who you are you attract the wrong vibes, the wrong people and you make poor decisions based on appeasing others. You can waste a lot of energy worrying about what others think. I prefer to focus my actions around my values and I find that I’m attracted to others who do the same. I’ve been shaped by some inspirational, values driven leaders in my life, and my PLN and trusted colleagues continue to guide me, but ultimately, my self- esteem is now high enough that I can champion myself.
Positive self talk and confidence within oneself can often be mistaken as arrogance, especially in women. I believe in humility, another of my core values, and those who know me well know that I am very much an introvert. Does that surprise you from reading the above? Introverts do not always have low self esteem! The self efficacy I have stems from a humble self-worth, and a spiritual self acceptance that has developed over time. In a recent Gretchen Rubin quiz to identify which of 4 tendencies I have (when responding to expectations), I was surprised to be labelled a ‘rebel’! I wondered whether there was some conflict between being an introvert and being a rebel. Rebels can described within this framework as:
Individuals who seek to live up to their own identity and values. They place a high value on authenticity and self-determination and bring an unshackled spirit to what they do. They choose to act from a sense of choice, of freedom.
This resonated a lot with me. This is another dimension to my diverse and authentic self!
To me authenticity is:
Knowing your values
Staying true to yourself
Showing courage and vulnerability
Admitting mistakes and asking for support
Being humble and having integrity
Being kind to yourself and others