Being Your Authentic Self in Business
I recently read this article in Forbes Magazine about trying too hard to get people to like you. It made me reflect on the pressure many feel when starting their own business or pushing their own ideas.
When starting your own business there is a lot of pressure to succeed and do whatever it takes. There is pressure to be your best self. However, I think sometimes it becomes easy to confuse being your best self with trying to be someone everyone will like. By that I mean there is pressure to get potential buyers to like you and your product, to have potential investors like you and your business concept. There is pressure to get potential collaborators to like you and work with you. There is pressure to convince everyone that your idea is wonderful and that you are the perfect person to run your business. Here is the problem. Sometimes this pressure slowly picks away at you and you find you are starting to play a character. There is a fine line between learning techniques to help you network, present, sell and grow, and becoming a people-pleaser by acting, doing and saying a certain way because you want people to support you. I am not saying that people pleasing doesn’t ever work. Some people like their egos stroked and others don’t like to be bull shitted. However, you can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t bend over backwards to please someone so much that your find yourself completely contorted into someone you don’t want to be.
So, here is some unsolicited advice: No matter what you do everyone is not going to like and support you. If you are your authentic self then the people who do like and support you and your idea are actually genuinely supporting YOU and YOUR IDEA. If you try to please everyone, you create a lot of bad habits like not being able to say no to anyone, which in the long run will create stress for you. Ultimately you will not know if people really support you and your idea or the false image you are projecting. Once you start to be yourself you will spend less time on trying to please and being someone you are not, and more valuable time developing yourself and your business.
Bottom line if you can make a genuine connection with someone they become an invaluable contact and maybe even a potential life long friend, supporter, etc. The best way to make a genuine connection is to be authentic. What does it mean to be authentic? ” Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures…”-wikipedia. Its not easy to be authentic and sometimes it can take a lot of hard work. It also doesn’t mean that you can just show up, be yourself, and everyone will naturally connect with you. Growing means being out of your comfort zone. If this is something you struggle with, I found this recent article that points out some of the common habits you can recognize and work on to help you be less of a people-pleaser and more of you:
Five signs you are trying too hard to be liked- Forbes\Leadership