Having the confidence to be authentic
It was only when I stepped out of the corporate legal world and away from the rules and expectations that exist within it that I realised how oppressive that environment is. There’s no room for individuality – instead there’s a strict set of written and unwritten rules that you have to follow all day every day, whether it’s telling you what you should be wearing, the time you get to work and when you have lunch, the whole system is engineered to suppress our individuality.
We all think that conformity is a pre-requisite to success, so we become presentations of who we think we should be, rather than reflections of who we really are. It doesn’t matter what our own individual values are because we have to adopt the values of others to ensure we fit in. The fear of not being accepted deters us from doing anything that could potentially anger or alienate the people we’re seeking approval from. But living like this can be seriously damaging to our self-esteem, confidence and overall happiness.
Being authentic means that you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel, which can be a pretty scary thing. It first means that you need to have really good self-awareness about who you actually are. What are your values? What drives you and what are you passionate about? These are all questions you need to be able to answer.
But how do you actually do it? Well, you need to start sharing more of the real you with the world, which means you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, step by step.
Being authentic means that you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel, which can be a pretty scary thing.
For me, the first step was setting up my own business and taking control over what I wore to work. I’d always worn the typical “lawyer” wardrobe which I hated. As a very active person who spends a lot of time in the gym, I’m most comfortable in a pair of jeans or leggings and trainers, and once I started to wear the clothes I felt most comfortable in, I instantly felt more confident. Then I decided to stop covering up my tattoos, which at the time felt like a really scary thing to do.
I initially worried about what other people would think, particularly clients, and whether it would have a detrimental effect on my business. I felt self-conscious going to meetings, particularly with some of our bigger clients, but it actually had the completely opposite effect. I’ve received so many comments from clients saying that they find it really refreshing to work with a lawyer that doesn’t look like a lawyer, it’s been instrumental in the success of my business.
And recently I’ve been putting myself out there, through social media, blogs and videos, because I want to share my experiences and learnings with you all in the hope that it will help and inspire you on your own journey. It’s pretty scary, I’m not going to lie, but it feels like the right thing to do so I’m going to follow my gut and give it a try!
If you can have the confidence to be authentic, it’s a total game changer. There’s nothing more empowering that living according to your own set of values. My experience has shown me that conformity is counter-productive; we think it’s a pre-requisite for success but it’s the complete opposite. You’re only going to achieve your potential when you start living authentically, so what small step can you take today to share your true self with the world?