Marco’s Insights: Let’s talk about authenticity, baby!

Marco Houwen is a frequent contributor to Trans-for-Nation Magazine, sharing his vision and experience of practising authentic, holistic leadership.

June 27, 2024

Yes, I know—sounds like a line straight out of a marketing playbook. But stick with me. Despite its playful wrap, this is exactly what I’m here to explore: the profound impact authenticity can have on all of our lives and businesses.

In personal development and psychology, Authenticity means the degree to which an individual’s external life (behaviours, relationships, and expressions) aligns with their internal self (personal identity, values, and beliefs). This includes being true to oneself and fulfilling one’s true potential.

But why does authenticity matter so much, especially in business? Let’s dive into a personal story that might shine some light on this.

Early in my career, I was driven by the need to be recognized as a successful businessperson — partly for myself but, truthfully, mainly to gain my father’s approval. The growing Internet hype at the end of the 90s of last century looked like the perfect segway for an eager guy like me and I jumped on it, dedicating years to hard work, innovation, and pushing others and my own boundaries. From founding some successful Internet companies, creating a one of its kind business association, to taking a tech startup global, I was on the move.

However, years later, when the ‘so longed for’ accolades finally came, they felt hollow. Despite achieving what I thought were my ultimate goal, my father’s approval, I felt no sense of fulfilment at all. This understanding led me to question all aspects of my personal and professional life. Was being ‘seen’ really my ultimate aim? Or did I chase shadows during all these years, guided by flawed assumptions about success and happiness?

This introspection made me realise that external achievements, while seemingly rewarding, weren’t the key to genuine contentment. The real questions weren’t about success in the conventional sense. They were deeper, more personal:

– What is it I truly long for in life?
– Why do I do what I do?
-Who am I, and who do I aspire to be?

Answers like ‘money,’ ‘respect,’ and ‘success’ surfaced initially, but they were surface-level. Delving deeper, I discovered that these didn’t bring the contentment I was seeking. There was always ‘one more goal’ to chase.

Authenticity isn’t just about being true to the world; it’s about being true yourself

This journey taught me that authenticity is not just a buzzword—it’s the access to true happiness. By consistently asking myself «Who am I?» and peeling back the layers of my own motivations, I started aligning my actions with my true self. This alignment is where our true power lies.

Authenticity and introspection are tools that, when used intelligently, can help anyone and any company to find contentment. They encourage us to look beyond societal definitions of success and discover what genuinely makes us happy. It’s a simple, yet profound, process of asking ourselves who we are, over and over again, until the answers start to reveal a life experience of happiness and success..

In essence before we ask ourselves the question why we do, we always need to ask the question ‘Who Am I?’ first. And yes, that’s a difficult question and the answer is never easy nor is it definite. But by asking it constantly we get ever closer to our ultimate objective.

So, let’s talk about authenticity, baby—not as a marketing gimmick, but as a sincere invitation to explore the depths of our own and our company’s identity.

It’s about finding joy in showing up as who we are, rather than carrying a mask which is designed to suit external situations. This journey isn’t always easy, but it is undoubtedly worth it as you will not only learn to know yourSelf but develop an ever growing joy in business and life.

Remember, authenticity isn’t just about being true to the world; it’s about being true to yourself. And in that truth, you’ll find the greatest success and satisfaction of all.»

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