At a recent TEDx conference, Abbie Hutty, an inspiring, self-confessed Space Geek (and engineer involved in the development of the Mars Rover), said the key to being an effective role model is having the confidence to be authentic. That confidence doesn’t mean putting on a show for the sake of it. And that when your confidence is a façade you can alienate the very people you want to inspire.
She described how as an introvert, although she can stand on a stage in front of hundreds of people, that in order to inspire a future generation of engineers (who statistically are usually introverts) it wouldn’t be helpful – or authentic – to pretend she was naturally confident.
In fact, she was terrified. This, she said, is why it’s so important to be real when trying to engage like-minded people. If you pretend to be something you’re not, you won’t attract people like you.
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
There is an overwhelming expectation these days that we should all be extroverts. Loud, full of energy, standing at the front, ready for anything.
If that’s your default setting, that’s absolutely fine. For those that aren’t naturally built that way – but there is an expectation to behave that way – it’s exhausting. (And incidentally how noisy a person is, isn’t a measure of how confident they are).
I came across the acceptance of introversion in a book by Susan Cain called Quiet. Her book recognises that introversion is just as valid as extroversion, and that for some people (about 50% of the population) sitting quietly, reading a book under a tree is preferable than going to a live concert attended by 10,000 people. And I get it. It’s no coincidence that a lot of the work I do (like Mindfulness) involves peace and quiet.
That doesn’t mean introverts don’t like people (they generally do) but it does mean they don’t want to mislead anyone – and shouldn’t have to – by pretending they are feeling, being or doing something they’re not.
Abbie described how being ordinary is okay, that being real is what makes us authentic and that being perfect isn’t what helps us succeed. In fact, she argues that pushing the limits of these things is the very thing that pushes results – and people – away.
It’s okay to be quiet.
What does authenticity mean to you?
Copyright Delphi Ellis