When I was a little boy I loved “pretending.” I loved dressing up like the superhero or star character in a movie I had recently seen. I would run around my house and backyard and I would “be that guy” for awhile…until the next “guy” came around…then I wanted to be that guy.
This is all very cute when you’re a 5 or 6 year old little kid and you’re talking about superheroes. But not when you’re acting the same way as an adult. Trying to be someone you’re not can have real consequences in your relationships and work.
In our culture today, whether it’s Hollywood, social media, you name it, there is such a pressure put on us to believe that, in order to succeed, we have to look a certain way, run a business a certain way, believe a certain thing, and on and on. There is no room left to just be you because apparently, simply you isn’t good enough anymore. The comparison game overtakes us and we can’t settle for just who we are.
Well, that’s not what God says.
In Genesis, we’re told that God made man in His own image. We are created in the image of the almighty God! Theologians refer to this as “Imago Dei.” This is a term that is unique to humans. We alone are created in the image of God. We have inherent value, dignity, and worth – because we are his treasured creation. He made each of us different with unique abilities, talents, skills, understanding, convictions, and gifts. But with all of our unique differences, we all are authentic. Authenticity, simply defined, is “real,” “genuine,” “not copied.”
How does authenticity apply to the workplace or running a business — or even us, as a creative digital agency? It helps us understand who we are and who we are not. When we become comfortable in our own skin, we’re able to do our very best work.
We’ve paired our value Authenticity with our work philosophy “Audience approval is a waste of time: Never sacrifice your authenticity and integrity for the sake of selling.” When we start thinking that the only way to succeed is by pleasing others, we’ve lost sight of who we are.
In her incredibly helpful essay “Why Work?”, Dorothy Sayers puts it this way:
You cannot do good work if you take your mind off the work to see how the community is taking it […] You will probably end up merely fulfilling a public demand – and you may not even do that. A public demand is a changeable thing. Nine-tenths of the bad plays put on in theaters owe their badness to the fact that the playwright has aimed at pleasing the audience, instead of producing a good and satisfactory play. Instead of doing the work as its own integrity demands that it should be done, he has falsified the play by putting in this or that which he thinks will appeal to the groundlings (who by that time have probably come to want something else), and the play fails by its insincerity. The work has been falsified to please the public – and in the end even the public is not pleased.
What a great example. Are we just working to fill a public demand? Are we just trying to “please the audience?” To gain others’ approval and therefore sacrificing our authenticity and integrity for the sake of a sale? Like Sayers says, if this is how we go about our work, it will surely not be our best work and therefore the audience won’t be satisfied and we will be left unfulfilled as well. It will “fail by its insincerity.”
Are you comfortable in your own skin? Do you feel the need to try to be something you’re not in order to please someone else? At Yellow Leaf Marketing, we really had to dial in on who we are and who we serve in order to do our best work. There are so many incredibly talented creative agencies in our city – literally within a 5 mile radius of where I’m sitting right now. I felt myself feeling pressured to manipulate Yellow Leaf Marketing to be more like “them” and therefore, as Sayers says, “falsifying our work.”
It’s freeing to realize and joyfully declare, “No, we’re not ‘them.’ We’re ‘us.’”
Galatians 1:10 says:
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
If we are going to serve Christ through our work, we must rid ourselves of the incessant need for the approval of man.
This week, let’s all strive to be freed up in our unique gifts, creative offerings, services and products we bring to the market. Let’s do our work, like we do it – not like them.
It’s time for a little more authenticity.
Our free 8×10 Word Art: AUTHENTICITY.
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