In Wired for Authenticity Leadership Tool-Kit

share_04Welcome to Week 2 of the Authenticity@Work Leadership Tool-Kit. My intention for this series is to share a quick tool each week to help you lead with more authenticity, adaptability and inspiration so we can together create workplaces where we bring the best of ourselves and inspire others.

In last week’s series opener we discussed why I wrote a book about authenticity, what questions people have about authenticity and more. Did you take the Wired for Authenticity assessment?

Did you know we’re actually wired for authenticity? It’s good for our well-being. And in this week’s practice you will learn how to take a stand for yourself, because it is good for your well-being and that of others around you.

You’ve heard about polygraph tests? It measures whether a person is lying. How does it know? Lying causes stress in the body.

As part of the test, six nodes are attached to the body to measure vital signals. When the person is lying, the detector shows a significant change in physiological responses by sensing a faster heart rate, higher blood pressure, and increased perspiration. Telling a lie creates stress in the body, and research shows that continuous stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. I suspect that hiding the truth about ourselves, suppressing our voice or parts of who we are creates similar stress in our bodies.

You might say we’re simply wired to tell the truth.

What is being true to ourselves anyway? It is about being connected with ourselves to know what is true for us in this moment. It is about being brave enough to share that with others. It is about expressing our unique point of view powerfully enough to be heard because we know that it matters.

This requires being connected to the centered intelligence inside of us, our authentic self. I call my authentic self my Center Intelligence Agency (not to be confused by the U.S. C.I.A!). When I am in my centered self, I am calm and agile, I can pick the part of myself that best serves the greatest good in this moment.

This Week’s Tool:

Stand or sit in front of a mirror. Take three deep and slow breaths. Stand with your spine straight and your shoulders back. Relax. Take in who is looking at you. Look into your own eyes with curiosity, compassion, appreciation, and gratitude for at least two minutes. It may be hard but keep focused. As you become calm and centered, say hello to your authentic self. You may choose to name it as you will be returning to this often.

Looking at your physical features, notice what you don’t like and find something to appreciate about it. For example, these days, I often see gray hair as I look in the mirror. When I stand in gratitude, I can see that my gray hair is well earned. I say, “I am grateful for my gray hair. They have come with greater self-acceptance and the ability to not take myself so seriously.”

Do this exercise for twenty-one days, and you will notice a shift in how you relate to yourself. As you shift how you relate to yourself, you will notice it will be easier to take a stand for who you are, for speaking your perspective, and pursuing goals important to you. As you do this, you will create the space for others to do the same. What is the experience of being in your authentic self? Share this with your accountability partner or in your journal.

What did you discover? Join our Authenticity@Work community and post your reflections directly to the blog here (link to blog on Week 2).

Get the latest resources for Authenticity@Work (this tab will get updated with all kinds of cool resources). Curious to know more about the book? Read the reviews about Wired for Authenticity here.

Showing 5 comments
  • Allison

    Just stop and really look at myself in the mirror. So simple, but I never do it. I spend so much time inside myself learning how to “be mindful” that it has never occurred to me to just look in the mirror and SEE me. Say “hello” to me without judging my skin or my hair or assessing how I look. To look into my own eyes. So, Challenge accepted. 21 days of staring into my authentic self. I have a feeling I may find looking at myself in the mirror in the future will be an entirely different experience.

  • Allison

    Day 1: When I look in the mirror, I cannot see me. All I hear is the thoughts ‘about me’ . Wow. Why is it that in all the disciplines we never are asked to look at ourselves. It’s always from an eyes closed perspective. It’s hard to just look. Mirrors are the place where we judge how we look and then do something about it, including turn away from the mirror. In looking at me for two minutes, I decided to smile. What a difference that made. My eyes just ‘lit’ up. I looked so much better to me. I know I need to see myself in all angles, but seeing myself smiling was joyful.

    • Henna Inam

      Hi Allison –

      Thank you for joining the conversation and sharing with so much vulnerability. I love your point about smiling and seeing your eyes light up. That is so much the point of this exercise.

      When I tried looking at myself at the mirror (really looking into my eyes, not just checking if my gray roots were showing!), it was really difficult to stay for the two minutes. I kept thinking of things that needed to be done immediately…anything to distract me. What I realized was that my self-judgment made the process painful. It made me aware of how much self-judgment is part of my daily thought patterns…and self-judgment makes authenticity so hard! My meditation teacher suggested that I stick with the exercise. He suggested that I look at myself as if I was seeing my daughter or a good friend – with eyes of love and appreciation. When I shifted my presence with myself, I found myself tearing up. There was something very real and beautiful that I came into contact with.

      This exercise has so much to offer to us in just learning how to be kind to ourselves – and take a stand for who we are right now, gray hair and all!

      I would love for your to share with our community what you discover during the 21 day process.

  • Lily Kriegs

    Day 1 of looking in the mirror: Of course I noticed my grey hair too Henna :D I saw me but also the way to this mirror. I saw how tired but also resilient this last year has made me. Older, but not in a discomforting way. I must confess that I jumped directly into making the likes and dont likes in my head, approaching the journey behind me. I learned a lot, lost some of the things I thought “made me” as a person, as a leader. I am willing to take a chance and be curious about what this change will lead me. I can see clearly my vulnerability. As I allow myself to be vulnerable, I feel freer. But it is still scary.

    • Henna Inam

      Hi Lily – Yes, looking in the mirror is scary. From your note, I see that you notice the tiredness and also the well-earned resilience. I avoided looking in the mirror for a long time because of all the self-judgments I made, and they hurt! So I avoided it. Now I look in my eyes and breathe deeply. I try to look as I would in the eyes of someone I care about…with appreciation and respect. I find myself smiling at times. It’s a way to develop a friendly relationship with ourselves, so no matter how we are, we know we have a friend inside.

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