• Mel Butcher

Bad Advice: "Be Authentic"

It's popular to tell professionals to be more authentic at work. It ranks right up there with telling women they should be more confident.

On a good day, both are poor advice.

One flaw (for both) is - how would we measure success?

How will we know the meter has ticked up to an acceptable level of confidence for us to give you the stamp of approval?

How will we know you are behaving consistently authentically enough?

Somewhere a while ago, Seth used the example of a surgeon having a bad day. Would you like them to show up on the day of your procedure "authentically" - unfocused and in a piss poor mood?

Obviously, no. You want your surgeon to show up when the procedure is scheduled calm, collected, and focused on the risky task at hand.

And when we go to a theater production, we certainly want the actors to show up with all their talent for story telling and character creation we came to see, not the authentic emotions of their day.

The same goes for baristas, consultants, marketers, web developers, mechanics... and you.


Everywhere we look, professionals are serving, including you and I. And to be effective, there are days we will not show up authentically.

This is the decision of the professional.

We choose professionalism. We choose to bring our dedication and integrity to our work over emotions.


Because we care about the outcome.


Another Authenticity Paradigm

On a recent Akimbo episode, a listener generously offered us new phrasing to make the distinction between "authenticity of self" versus "authenticity of work." (Thanks, Liam!)

Authenticity of self is what we were discussing above.

Authenticity of work is something else. What I mean by your 'work' is your craft. It is not your job title.

For instance, an engineer might assume their craft is engineering. However, in their day-to-day work, it is often something different. Their craft might be superb project management - where they bring their full organizing and leadership skills to cajole a successful project out of chaos.

The work you deliver via your craft contains your voice. No one else will do it quite like you. It is your authentic work.

When someone else sees the result of your craft, they will not see your authentic mood or self. But because you are a professional, your work will show your hand's influence.



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