Core Values Redux: Authenticity

This post is part of an ongoing challenge to go through James Clear’s list of Core Values and take a week to reflect on each one.


When I hear the word ‘Authentic’, two things come to mind: authentic objects (highly valued items of verifiable origin) and authentic people. I believe this Core Value is primarily designed to focus on the latter.

There are aisles upon aisles of self-help books that encourage you to pursue your passions or your ‘authentic self’. The idea is that if we can quiet down the voices from all around us, all the shames and demands from society, then we can find what we ‘really’ want. And if we pursue that, we will feel a greater sense of fulfillment in our lives. But pursuing a future that aligns with our Authenticity can be difficult and scary. I know that personally Imposter Syndrome and Human Giver Syndrome are two voices in my head that hold me back.

Authenticity can be defined as ‘the quality of being real or true’. However, both of those words have several of their own definitions; ‘real’ can refer to a subset of mathematical numbers or something tangential that we can hold, while ‘true’ can be the absence of falseness or a surface without warping. I think it is interesting to play with language when thinking about these Core Values, even if sometimes the additional definitions verge on absurdity. But if we reel (pun) back to the domain of self-reflection, perhaps Authenticity is reflecting on a non-judgmental assessment of what makes one tick and doing one’s best to conduct one’s actions in an aligned fashion.

Thinking back to authentic objects, what would a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ for a person look like? If you were to look at your life today, would you say you are living it authentically? What evidence would you put on that certificate to convince yourself and others?

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