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If it swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, is it a duck?

You know that person who doesn’t apologize for her preferences, sensitivities, strengths, vulnerabilities or style? Or, that man who knows “just who he is” and you sense something real when you’re with him?

That’s authenticity.

An authentic person’s presence touches something in us. Their ease with themselves is inspiring. And scary. And intimidating. We are drawn to them at the same time we are uncomfortable. Could that discomfort mean we want “whatever she’s having?”

Authenticity is one of those qualities that means different things to different people. The way we measure it in ourselves and in other people varies. Some people see authenticity as a trait that you either have or you don’t.

To me, authenticity is the capacity to align my truest experience inside, with the way I wear myself on the outside. That gap shrinks or grows depending on the situation and the extent to which I’m willing to know myself and be willing to show myself.

When the stakes feel high like a job interview the gap can feel like the Grand Canyon. How to be “oneself” while making a positive impression? Since authenticity is expressed through your presence (the specific ways of being that you expose through body, word and deed), what are you allowing to come through? What do you censor? What qualities aren't yet known?

In an interview, your presence telegraphs your qualities as they apply to the role you’ll play in the culture of the organization. You can amplify those that align with the organization’s expressed needs. The more you embody them, the more likely your interviewer can “see” you in the role you seek (I’m assuming that you’re not applying for roles you cannot see yourself in). The magic happens when the power of you-being-you raises their awareness to needs they didn’t know they had until you came along.

Cultivating presence takes preparation; self-awareness, thought, planning, and practice. Authentic presence is a process of becoming… There are steps, obstacles to be dissolved, and still more practice. Like any worthy endeavor, the benefits are huge and the growth you make has the potential to transfer to other areas of your life.

I’d bet my rubber ducky on it.

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