We move so quickly through our day and life that it is easy to go a long time without reflecting on who we truly are as people and if we are living our lives authentically. All it takes is a reminder now and again to do a gut check.

The Talent Anarchy team, Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt, are currently doing some research on the topic of authenticity. In their research survey they asked the questions, “What life experiences have shaped your view of authenticity?” and “How did those experiences impact you?” So I had to think of my own crucible moments when it came to my authentic self.

My answer? I always go back to the semester I spent studying abroad in France. It was 2003, and incidentally, this was the exact time that President George W. Bush announced the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The French were not supportive, and you may remember Americans talking about how the French forgot what the Americans did for them in World War II and renaming french fries as “freedom fries.” The French, who love a good protest, were often demonstrating in the streets of my town. And I was an American caught in the middle.

I was living in Caen, the largest city in Normandy, as in, D-Day beaches. When people spoke about “the war” as if it happened last week, they were still referring to World War II. It was so present, it was like you could taste it. I met a man who told me the story of how he lived on the beaches and on his eighteenth birthday, he watched the Americans storm the D-Day beaches from his window. No one had forgotten.

“All experiences in our lives connect back to our values.”

So how does that shape who I am exactly? All experiences in our lives connect back to our values, and in this case, this shaped my value of being open minded. I had the unique experience of truly hearing both sides. Today one of my core values is being open minded, being open to being wrong, and listening. Because I value this, I get frustrated when others do not practice this (cue an election year).

When we can articulate and live by our values, we are being authentic with how we show up in the world. Being your true self at work, and at home, can mean stronger relationships, higher trust, and being more comfortable in your own skin.

So, the question turns to you. Who are you under there, and what made you that way?



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