Here’s a dilemma we’re all familiar with as we try to get noticed in that vast and noisy media landscape.

We’ve been advised to be our real, authentic self and communicate this in our individual, authentic voice as the best way to ‘Stand Out” from the mediocre masses.

It’s great advice!

However, like every popular ‘trend’, the terms ‘authenticity’ & ‘real’ have become so diluted, commodified and curated, they’ve been emptied of meaning in the process.

What I’m talking about here is how Personal Branding has co-opted the call to personal authenticity with the result that we’ve ended up treating our lives as a product to be manufactured, mediated & modified into appealing to whatever the market wants. We’re perfecting the art of  sprinkling the ‘personal’ into our conversations to make our exchanges more ‘intimate’ in an increasingly automated world.

When the over-sharing of our personal lives and the carefully curated ‘causes’ we publicly support are strategy-driven – to get more likes, more leads, more exposure – that forgery, or fake authenticity.

There’s a lot of inauthentic authenticity out there!

Instead of identifying what makes us unique (our values, personality, talents, experiences, visions, etc.), owning it, developing it and expressing it in our authentic voice, we’re aligning ourselves with the mindset, the values and the practices of external market forces that require us to present ourselves as a consumable ‘product’.

How do you distinguish between manufactured authenticity and the real thing? 

In one of my recent blogs I said that “authenticity is an inside job”. Here’s a very simple & reliable guideline to help you spot the difference:

‘Packaged’ Personal Branding is:

  • a response to external forces
  • about how you want to be perceived by others
  • tied up with a lot of effort and on-going curation

Your Authentic Voice is:

  • driven by internal forces without any need for external validation
  • effortless to create and maintain because it has an innate natural flow
  • experienced as a release of our restrained & blocked energies via our authentic voice

Are the two always separate?

For those of us who strive to align our inner and outer lives as much as possible, we’re navigating our way through the middle ground where the two intersect and we’re trying to expand this intersection.

To help you identify which is which, always check the agenda behind why and how you present yourself.

Personal Branding is ‘packaged’ authenticity if:

  • you are responding to current market demands
  • the liberal sprinkling of the ‘personal’ is grounded in making selling easier, increasing your likes/leads/list
  • the version of authenticity you present does not fit comfortably with the real you
  • you constantly groom your media persona to align with changing external circumstances & opinions

Personal Branding is a genuine expression of your authentic self, if:

  • it’s driven by an internal impulse to express your inner values, your truth, your purpose – regardless of external trends
  • it’s grounded in the need to connect with like-minded people and serve the members of that community – not sell to them
  • it feels aligned with who you really are at a deep level
  • you often encounter criticism from others for your uncurated opinions

That last one is uncomfortable for some. Yes, I’ll be my true authentic self – as long as everyone likes me for it. One great test of whether you’re being authentic is when you speak your truth and you rattle some people – maybe a lot of people. The upside to that is you’re resonating with those who ‘get’ you which means you’ll reach more of the people who share your views & your values, or respect you for having the courage to express them.

How to close that gap?

Here are a few questions to get your started on the process of closing the gap between ‘fake’ and ‘genuine’. These questions are directed to how you experience the call to be your ‘authentic self’.

If living your authentic self feels risky, invigorating, challenging, enjoyable; do more.

 If you find that building and presenting your Personal Brand smothers your own authentic voice; do less.

 If your community is developing in depth rather than width; do more.

 If you find yourself making choices based on external market trends; do less.

 If expressing your authentic voice feels like an empowering, unpredictable  journey of self-discovery; do more & more & more.

 … Now it’s your turn to ask yourself more questions!