The Art of Authenticity
I landed my first leading role without even having to audition. As a child, I was cast as the leading lady in a church play. The director simply gave me the part, and since there was no audition, I’m certain that she selected me based on my personality. I continued to study acting and participate in productions throughout my childhood and into adulthood. These skills have contributed tremendously to my success as a facilitator, speaker and coach.
When I facilitate workshops, an important part of the process that holds me accountable for growth and improvement is collecting feedback from the participants. In a recent session evaluation, my day was made when I read a comment that was written by someone who participated in a webinar that I designed and facilitated.
They described, in detail, their appreciation for my authenticity. They went on to suggest that I teach a class for others on how to let your authenticity shine while presenting. As I study and support adults, I’ve observed that a common fear they share is around showing up as their whole selves in all contexts. There’s this feeling that we must show up in different ways in different spaces, and that there are certain parts of who we are that we must hide. While I completely understand this line of thinking, I’ve found my confidence and joy in taking a different approach.
Many of my lessons in authenticity are influenced by the skills that I learned during my years of acting in the theater. Being believable before an audience is about staying true to one’s character. This is also true in life. When we stick to the script that is divinely and specifically written for us, full out and with full presence, we will always receive a standing ovation and be invited to return for an encore. Here are a few theater acting terms that when applied to real life, might inspire you to tap into your authentic self.
Project from the Diaphragm. If we wanted an audience to hear what we were saying when microphones weren’t available, we were instructed to project from our diaphragms. This technique not only magnified our sound, but it also protected our vocal cords. It meant that we needed to pull our voice from deep within our core and speak in a way that could be heard clearly by the person in the last row. This is how we must use our voice in life. We must amplify what is deep within us and despite all of the systems and factors working against us, we must believe that our voice matters and it counts.
What feeling, idea, or message do you need to give voice to?
Cheat Out. In a normal conversation, we speak to a person face to face, not taking into account anything or anyone else around us. In theater, when we are speaking to another character, if we have our back or our side to the audience, they may not be able to hear us or see our facial expressions and other non-verbal cues clearly. In these instances, we are instructed to “cheat out.” This means that we must open up the front of our body and turn it toward the audience as we speak to other characters so that our message can be fully experienced. When we are not our authentic selves, it’s like talking to an audience with our back to them. They never get to see you for who you truly are. Opening up gives those around you the gift of experiencing you in your entirety. Modeling this level of vulnerability indicates that it is safe for others to let their guards down as well which cultivates safe and connected teams, communities and relationships.
What parts of who you are have you turned your back on? How might you open up and honor the parts of you that make you who you are?
Use Your Cues. Memorizing lines from a script goes far beyond focusing on our parts alone. Our fellow cast members know what to say or do next based upon listening for the line or watching for the action that comes before their part. These are called cues. When we listen and pay attention, we know what to say and do next. An important part of authenticity is being fully present and engaging with the people you are interacting with in the moment. Unless it is a monologue, focusing on your lines alone wouldn’t make for a very entertaining show. This mindful practice is marred when our energy is divided and directed toward worrying about what people think, or the "right" thing to say or way to say it. Let the cues lead you. How you listen, interact, and connect with others is an extension of your authenticity.
When I show up as my authentic self, I never have to worry about forgetting my lines, breaking character, or bad acting. When I stray away from this, my soul starts to ache with a longing to return to my truth. This week I challenge you to show up as your full self without asking for permission or offering an apology. If you can’t fathom or justify the importance of this for yourself, do it for those who are watching you. When they see you show up as the real you, it gives them inspiration and permission to do the same.
I am me authentically and unapologetically.
I am honoring my family, ancestors, culture and community by showing up as my whole self.
I am enough as I am.
Master Your Mindset to Manifest a Life You Love. Most Sincerely, Monica Marie Jones Your Soul Journey Guide