EMPATHY VS AUTHENTICITY.
Empathising with a problem means you are looking at it from the outside in. You have not experienced it and so rely on someone else's account (who has experienced it). A problem you can speak authentically to is your own. In this case, your perspective is from the inside out. You have experienced it.
As an entrepreneur, I only want to solve problems I can speak authentically to. Why?
Therein lies my power. Hence, I only want to be in businesses whose vision I believe in. I have several ideas they are solutions to my own problems. What is common in these ideas is that I can speak authentically about them. One of them is Sustainable Water.
YOUR INAUTHENTIC SELF
It has been said that communication is 93% nonverbal. When you start off in any business, you do your market research. You find out who your competitors are and how they do business. You start by determining why they are successful, then comes the business plan, the cash flow and the marketing plan not in that order necessarily. Don’t get me wrong, these things are important.
What nobody tells you is along the way, you start comparing yourself to your direct competitors. You try emulating their routes to market and eventually their business models. Or at least that’s what I did. You begin to get frustrated when their shoe doesn’t fit. You discover this when you try to pitch your idea to some important people and they don’t seem to get it. You pitch some more and become good at it and still it feels like you are just doling out information and none of it is getting through.
FINDING YOUR AUTHENTICITY
You go back to the drawing board sure that you are missing something. Until you remember why you decided to be an entrepreneur.
Simon Sinek: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Why do you do what you do and why should people care? Your authenticity is your why. I found my authentic self when I asked myself why I was running a company called Sustainable Water. I had tried everything for one and half years and nothing seemed to work. I had hit a wall. Luckily, I got a mentor who asked me to write down why I was solving the water crisis. Her reaction was: Goosebumps! That’s how I knew I had found my voice. She said,” I read your story and I got goose bumps then I made my husband read it”.
YOUR AUTHENTICITY IS……
When you speak your truth, no matter how raw it is, your body language (non verbal signals) aligns with your words and the impact is powerful. People can spot contradictions between your words and your body language. That’s why my message wasn’t going through.
Gary Zukav: Authentic Power is when your personality comes to fully serve the energy of the soul (your why).
Oprah : When you operate in authentic power, that’s your sweetspot!
Shakespeare: To thy own self be true
Dalai Lama : Be yourself but be all of you.
Jack Canfield: Re-own all the disowned parts of ourselves, whether it’s our emotions, our spirituality, our experiences,whatever. We all go around hiding parts of ourselves. The greatest wound we’ve all experienced is somehow being rejected for being our authentic self. We are afraid that if we are authentic we will be rejected again.
In case you have not figured it out, your why becomes your vision and that informs your mission, your product and the team you build. Basically, it becomes your raison de etre. When you speak, draw from that power.
THE GOOD FIGHT
When you find your authenticity, you have found your voice. Inevitably, there will be some who are going to oppose it. It is the way of business and life. But you have to stand firm in the face of business as usual. When people don’t understand why you don’t want to use pictures of hungry and malnourished children to garner donations when it is the done thing in the water crisis sector. Stand firm. When marketing doesn’t understand that water access is more important to you than money. Stand firm. When the HR team doesn’t get that from now on we are going to hire people who get the vision and not those with the best CV’s. Stand firm. And when you have tried your best to explain your vision to people and they still don’t get it. That’s okay. They will never get it. Find those who get it and work with them. You will go further.
What is your voice? What do you want to say? When you find it and say it authentically, firmly and loudly.