Authenticity lies at the heart of success in communication and, arguably, at the heart of success in anything. We all achieved whatever success we have by being us. Sure you may have honed your skills, gathered experience, even stolen some ideas along the way but you have remained the person you were from the start. No one becomes successful by being someone other than who we are because we can’t maintain the charade long enough.
You are who you are.
And success doesn’t change you either. It simply highlights whatever traits existed in the first place and allows them to flourish. For example we often hear people say that money has changed someone and turned them into an asshole. Not true - they were an asshole in the first place! Money just allowed you to notice.
The most successful people in the world are those who have the strongest grip on who they are. They are acutely aware of their values and they are not afraid to articulate them to anyone who will listen. Consequently they gather like-minded people around them and that collective power breeds success for as long as those values have currency. Those values are not always popular to begin with or they may not be popular towards the end but the person who believes in them, sticks with them, and we remember them for that reason. If you want an individual example of this then look no further than Nelson Mandela.
Mandela's words, "The struggle is my life," are not to be taken lightly.
Nelson Mandela personifies struggle. He continued to lead the fight against apartheid with extraordinary vigor and resilience after spending nearly three decades of his life behind bars. In prison Mandela never compromised his political principles and was always a source of strength for the other prisoners.
He sacrificed his private life and his youth for his people, and remains South Africa's best known and loved hero. He stands for something. It is the stand that people rally to not the man.
It is the same in business. To be truly successful you and your business have to stand for something. There have to be guiding principles and values that people can identify with and rally to. There has to be a way for people to determine if you are like them and if they can trust you to fulfill your promises. The way is simple.
Tell people what you are like.
Tell people what they can expect from you in their business dealings.
Tell people what they can rely upon to be a part of every transaction.
Live up to it.