How Authenticity Drives Your Competitive Advantage

Just the other day, I revisited the inspiring and igniting speech Carla Harris gave at the Take The Lead launch this spring at Arizona State University. Each time I hear her speech, I find a new message, I sing a new tune, and I define a new motto. This time around my new message, tune and motto are glued to one aspect: authenticity.Carla Harris says the power of authenticity lies in the fact that you are your own competitive advantage. These words have been on repeat in my mind all week. If we do not bring our authentic selves to the table and we attempt to speak or act in ways that are counterintuitive to ourselves, we are our own competitive disadvantage. I know this to be true. I preach this to my children.My Authentic AvatarI encourage those I work with to bring their truest selves to the table.So today, I am asking myself this question: Why do I allow others to convince me I should change who I bring to the table? Do any of you ever ask yourselves this question too? If so, maybe you also find answers by looking around your own lives and discover exemplars who bring their authentic selves to their work.Let’s take a look.I have two sisters-in-law: my husband’s sister and my brother’s wife. They are two very different women, leading their lives on vastly different terms. One characteristic they have in common is they use the power of authenticity as their competitive advantage.Josey (2post) 2JoJo Diggs (born Katherine Borman) is a world renowned Hip Hop and House dancer and instructor. JoJo brings her authentic dance style into her teaching which has stretched as far as boy bands in Japan to children in underprivileged regions of Mexico. She has also initiated and hosted events called Diggs Deeper in cities throughout the U.S. It is a concept similar to an open mic night. This outlet invites members of the community to gather and share their dance as well as their experiences. Inspiring!Josey (2post) 3Allison Block, owner of New Living by Design, Helps Design Your Best Way to Look and Live. Allison’s philosophy is to help people bring their best foot forward by first knowing who they are and second, adorning themselves accordingly. Allison’s passion lies with her desire to help others help themselves. Her amazingly talented eye for everything design gives her the authentic competitive advantage her clients and students appreciate and love. With this, she encourages others to bring their own competitive advantage forward through their dress and their home. Brilliant!Finally, this past week, two people recommended I look at the work done by Marie Forleo. She is another shining example of a woman who seemingly brings the power of authenticity to her business. Watching her Creating a Life You Love videos on Marie TV not only made me laugh out loud, but reminded me of what it really means to bring personality and style into the work we do. And how important it is to do it! Courageous!The power of authenticity pearl of wisdom Carla Harris beautifully delivers can serve as a wake- up call to those who have been asked to, or those who believe, they have to change who they are in order to succeed. Regardless our dreams, our talents or our hopes for success, if we silence our true selves to serve someone else’s needs, we lose our best asset. We lose the ability to instill confidence in others that we have what it takes to lead a team, change the culture, teach our students or boost self-esteem in our clients.I have challenged myself to continue to bring my authentic self to the table. I encourage you to do the same.