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What Does Living Authentically Really Mean?

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What Does Living Authentically Really Mean?

Although my husband and I run our group of businesses together, it’s rare for us to be required to be in the same place at the same time.

I generally work ‘behind the scenes’, while managing our home and kids, and he is more the formal face of our brand. Last week, we were required to be in the same place at the same time. We’ve been in trials and negotiations with a potential new General Manager (GM), and the time had come to sit down and make a plan to move forward.

Actually, the time had already come and gone a couple of times, but conflicting schedules and difficulty with childcare meant the meeting had been rescheduled more than once. And now due to lack of childcare again, I found myself pushing for it to be moved once more. It couldn’t be moved, so I turned up to the meeting with our two-year-old in tow. It wasn’t the first time. We’ve had meetings at McDonalds and kids’ play centres. But I had desperately wanted to avoid having either one of our kids at this particular meeting.

See, we really wanted this GM. The trials and negotiations were being played out on both sides, and the last thing I wanted was him to see as unprofessional or think we didn’t take our life in business seriously. As we got talking, our two-year-old got down to doing his thing. It was obvious he was going to be a distraction, and I could feel myself starting to become flustered. Until, as he was talking, GM reached over and handed our two-year-old his car keys. Our two-year-old handed them back, and we kept talking as they kept playing, and I started to relax.

As we began to wrap up, I thanked GM for his patience with our son. He looked at me for a minute and said:

“I’ve been where you guys are. My kids have been to meetings. This is the life of a family in Small Business.”

The irony of this lesson for me is that I talk about, and write about, living an authentic life in business. We do run a family business, and our kids are a part of it. If GM hadn’t been ok with having our two-year-old at our meeting, he wouldn’t have been the right fit for us. So why was I so worried?

I learnt a few other valuable lessons about authenticity in that meeting:

1. We all get things wrong.

No matter how knowledgeable you are or how much experience you have, there will be times when you get things wrong. Getting it right isn’t what’s important. What’s important is how honestly you can look at what happened and how open you can be to learning from your mistakes.

2. Don’t wait for the perfect time.

Or the perfect situation, or until your product or service is perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist, and if you keep putting off things that will move your business forward because something isn’t perfect, you’ll never get anywhere.

3. Communication is everything.

If I’d just mentioned my reservations about our two-year-old to GM initially, the meeting would have taken place weeks before. Not only that, GM has lived our life and is now potentially a valuable source of support and information.

Living authentically isn’t about getting it right or being perfect. It’s about being honest about who you are, being honest about your business, and being open to learn from the lessons that state of mind brings forward.

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