Learn how to apply rigorous authenticity by surrendering what others suppose

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How to practice rigorous authenticity by surrendering what others think

By Michael Brody-Waite, a recovered addict for 18 years, who uses his incredible addiction and recovery experience to help leaders and entrepreneurs seek their own authentic leadership style. He is the author of Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts: How to Lead Like Your Life Depends On It and was recently a guest on EO 360 Podcasts.

The question

When teaching leaders a step-by-step program to find their own authentic leadership style, I often look inward and ask questions about where I can improve my practice of rigorous authenticity.

This often leads to difficult questions, including these:

What are you holding onto because people will think?

If I answer that myself, I have to say that I have a large collection of books. I love to read, highlight, and learn.

And – time of confession – I keep most of my books with me to impress YOU.

The history

For the past 10 years I have moved my entire book collection from house to house.

Whenever they moved, they stayed locked in the attic or in the garage.
Each time my wife would plead, “Can we please donate those who don’t love you to people who need them?”
Each time I replied, “No way. I will have a library one day! “

And if I get rigorously authentic, one day I want to have this library so that I can impress you.

In my head I already imagine a guest walking through this library thinking:

“He read the ledger? He has to be smart in business! “
“He read that crazy science fiction book? He has an advantage! “
“Has he read the delicate book? It must be deep! “

These books physically and symbolically burden my home, family, and soul with unnecessary “stuff” just to make me look good in the future.

Do you want to know how bad it gets? Here’s a great example:

In 2011, when I heard John Grisham’s The Litigators and found I had no way of displaying it – I bought a physical copy of the book.

I’ve been dragging this book and 20 others who like it around with me for ten years!

Don’t get me wrong: About 20 percent of my books are books that I love and keep going back to. That 20 percent of the books are for ME.

But the rest? That other 80 percent? I’ve been keeping them for you for the past 10 years.

And between the pandemic, having children, my mother’s death and joining a mask-free society that practices rigorous authenticity, I can no longer evade the truth.

I’m tired of cluttering my space and soul with a bunch of books that show how much I care about other people’s opinions.

So I delete 80 percent of my collection. I am donating it to someone who needs it.

If a strictly authentic life were a sport, I would win today.

The lesson

Look at your own life and think about this question: What are you holding onto because people are going to think?

Make a commitment this week to getting rid of what you think “should” keep. “Should” always means that it’s about what other people think.

So identify one thing that you are clinging to:

  • dresses
  • gifts
  • trophies
  • pictures
  • degrees
  • title
  • friends
  • Voluntary positions
  • Responsibility at work

Then give it to someone who needs it, remove it from your profile, or delegate it to a colleague. Then celebrate that you have regained some of your freedom.

And remember, you can’t control what other people think, but you can control whether you are focusing on the top 20 percent of your life.

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