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Proud to be You—The Power of Authenticity

Read our blog to learn how the power of authenticity can help you go far in life and your career and how to be authentic—because trust us, it is not easy.

This month, the UK is celebrating Black History Month. This special period is about celebrating Black heritage, culture, and individuals. But most importantly, it is also about celebrating you being YOU—with all your struggle, your imperfection, your value, and your strength. Now in its 34th year, Black History Month UK announced that this year’s theme would be “Proud to Be”, to showcase “the vast richness of Diversity that Black and Brown people bring to the UK.” If one thing we can all learn from the UK’s Black History Month is that despite the unfairness and inequality, you can still be YOU and make history against all odds. It starts with embracing yourself.

But what does this mean? Why does being yourself matter and what is the connection with success? Read further to learn the power of authenticity and how it can help you go further in your life and your career.

Be proud of who you are

Each of us has a different struggle, whether in life or career. But that is what makes each of us unique. Many people tend to forget this and instead, try to conform to the norm box that society embeds in our mindset. How many of us pretend to like something to avoid appearing as the odd one in the room? How many of us say “yes” because we want to be liked by others? How many of us follow what others do just because they do it?

The fact is humans tend to follow the crowd. While there is nothing wrong to follow social influence—we, humans, are social beings after all—, many of us often forget our character in the process. We often think that by conforming to others or following others, somehow our self-worth increases, especially in the age of social media.

But remember,

"Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth."—Tamera Mowry Housley

Just because you are underrepresented, it does not mean you are worth less than others. Just because you are being yourself, you are not less beautiful nor strong. In fact, by finding your voice and being yourself, whether in your social circle or at the workplace, you are releasing your inner strength—something that only YOU can access, and that nobody can take away from you.

Why authenticity matters

  • Better mental health and well-being
    Authenticity gives you freedom and peace of mind. Research shows that authenticity positively affects mental health. Individuals who are appreciative of their inner selves do not hide the core part of themselves. And when they embrace themselves, they experience less stress, as being yourself also frees you to overcompensate. In the end, this also affects physical health—after all, the human mind and body are connected.

  • Stronger trust
    When you are being yourself, you will feel psychologically safer. This will also radiate on the outside. In a collaborative study between Google and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), they found that psychological safety is one of the top predictors of high-performing teams. This is especially true when leaders are aware of their strengths, limitations, and emotions, fostering trust among the team members—authentic leadership for the win!

  • Deeper connection
    Once you get into the trust circle, connection blossoms. People who trust each other will have a deeper connection compared to those who do not. And when you have a deeper connection, you will have better teamwork because you are not afraid to give each other constructive criticism whenever needed.

By finding your voice and being yourself, whether in your social circle or at the workplace, you are releasing your inner strength—something that only YOU can access, and that nobody can take away from you.

How to be your authentic self

“Defining myself, opposed to being defined by others is one of the most difficult challenges I face.”—Carol Mosely Braun

At a young age, we are told “just be yourself.” That piece of advice seems so simple yet is difficult to achieve. But if you keep the following points in mind, the more you will keep true to yourself.

  • Vulnerability
    The number one key to authenticity is vulnerability. Being real does not mean you share the details of your private life. It is about the willingness to open yourself up to others when you have worries or issues, which leads to the next point.

  • Admission
    Admit when you make a mistake and be willing to learn and grow. It is often too easy to point fingers at others when an issue arises. But as a leader, take responsibility and own your mistake. Only then can you develop yourself as an individual.

  • Acceptance
    It is okay not to be okay. You are a human who has emotions. This is a fact that you need to embrace. Sure, it is important to have a positive outlook in general. But there is a difference between positivity and toxic positivity. When things crumble, not feeling well is a normal and very human coping mechanism—think of why hospitals arrange support groups for patients. Allow yourself some time to feel your emotions and over time, they too will pass.

  • Reflection
    Focus on your story and your journey. Focus on who you want to be and what you are doing to achieve that. Ask yourself, am I happy today at work? If not, what can I do to make myself happier?

The power of authenticity is real. In fact, it is central to everything you do—how it shapes you as an individual and a professional and how happy you are in life. All you need to do is embrace it and be proud to be YOU! This UK Black History Month Proud to Be campaign reminds us all that people can live life to the fullest without having to compromise who they are. Everyone deserves the right to be Proud to Be everything they are and want to be in life. 

Do you enjoy reading this blog? Check out our other blogs on thought leadership topics! 

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Sabrina Wijaya

Sabrina has many years of experience in marketing communication and has worked on various projects revolving around content strategy, digital marketing consultancy, social media management, and SEO copywriting. She holds a master's degree in Digital Marketing from the University of Amsterdam. She brings her expertise to develop SHL's digital content and brand strategy globally. She is enthusiastic about people, content creation, and organizational culture.

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Samia Khan

Samia is a business psychologist with over 20 years of experience and has helped public and private sector clients create a more effective workforce and foster success by using organizational psychology principles. Samia has worked with international clients and currently manages governance, strategic, and operational alignment with SHL’s distributor territories and as a result has a broad, global perspective on the changing world of work. Samia has an interest in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and advocates that everyone should be treated with humanity, dignity and respect. Her belief is since we spend over a decade of our lives at work, we should prioritize on developing an understanding in business where employees are happy and healthy to make a greater impact inside and out.

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