Success Mindset

Get Real: Authenticity and Merging Personality & Professional Life

So much research has indicated that in this new world of online relationship building, authenticity is one of the top ingredients in any recipe of success.

Being authentic means being honest and genuine, which then makes people (prospects, peers, clients) trust you naturally. People respond to people who feel “real” to them. Nobody likes a phony, and people get nervous and mistrustful when they can’t “read” a person. If people read you as authentic, they will trust you, value you, and look to you for leadership and guidance.

Authenticity is about how you conduct yourself, how you treat others, and the way you work and fit in to your corporate culture. It’s not about being “too nice’ or insincere; it’s about being real. I read that authenticity can be broken down into these five qualities:

Confidence + Self-awareness + Transparency + Consistency = Authenticity

In other words, authenticity is about establishing and showing an honest and consistent alignment between your personality, your words, and your actions. Much like other personal and professional skills, authenticity can be developed. Here are five ways to develop your authenticity:

1. Be honest. This does not mean you can be rude or disrespectful. You can be honest and still be respectful, diplomatic, and professional. The key is to express yourself well and use kind, constructive, and inclusive language when you speak.

2. Engage in active listening. Part of being authentic means you care about more than just yourself, so it is important to engage other people. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Ask questions. Practice reflective listening. Really listen to what they tell you. Resist the temptation to talk about yourself.

3. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Treating other people well is the surest sign of someone who is confident, collected, and genuine. Be gracious, polite, and respectful to everyone, from the janitor to the vice president, from the secretaries to the baristas, from your co-workers to the garage attendants. The real test is to view the way you treat people who can do nothing for you.

4. Take a personality test. Becoming more aware of yourself, how you operate in the world, how you behave, and how you impact people is the key to using your authentic self in business. A good way to learn about yourself is to take a personality test like the Meyers-Briggs. That test and others like it are an excellent tool for self-awareness, as long as you get the proper training around the assessment. Make sure a professional is able to go over the results with you so you can understand and use the information properly.

5. Look at others. Studying traits of successful but authentic business people is also a good way to understand what being real looks like. How do these folks approach life and work? Are they passionate about what they do? Are they consistent in what they say and what they do? Do they have confidence is being themselves even if nobody else does things their way? Do they integrate their personal qualities into their work life? It’s a sense we have about someone which tells us if they’re an authentic person or not.

Being authentic means you are honest and real. It means you are trusted and counted on. And it is so important to your success in modern business.

Just Say No to Multi-tasking

We live in an age of multitasking. We spend our days immersed in computers, tablets, phones and other devices that let us do ten things at once, while staying up-to-date on the latest news, sports, emails and tweets from around the world.

There’s just one problem: our brains aren’t built for multitasking.

Many people think they’re good at multitasking, but the research says it simply isn’t true. We get less done, and we do it less accurately and effectively, when we try to multitask. And the people who think they’re good at multitasking are actually the worst at it.

“Switching from task to task, you think you're actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you're actually not,” said Earl Miller, Neuroscience Professor at MIT, in an NPR article. “You're not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly.”

This switching has a cost, in terms of time, attention and effectiveness. A study reported in the Journal Of Experimental Psychology found students were 40% slower solving complicated math problems when they had to switch to other tasks. And research by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London found multitasking with electronic media temporarily reduces your IQ by 10 points. 

Instead of trying to do everything at once, try to intentionally, consciously do ONE THING AT A TIME and to completion.  What a concept?! Try time-blocking for one week and come back to tell me how much more productive you were.

What is Time Blocking?

Time blocking is a technique that involves scheduling blocks of time designated for specific actions or tasks throughout the day, week, month or year. These tasks should be associated with your short-term and long-term goals, and must be blocked out in accordance with the realistic number of hours available each day. Time blocking is a productivity technique that can help to keep your life in balance and less stressful.

At first, the idea of rigidly scheduling tasks in such a way may seem counter-intuitive. But for those of you with a build-up of assignments to get through or a tight deadline to meet, time blocking can keep you focused on your top priorities while keeping interruptions, procrastination and fruitless multitasking at a minimum.

Mental preparedness

Scheduling a task for the future allows you to be mentally prepared for it. If the task at hand is a complex one, you can prepare for each step in advance. By taking the time to plan out the task in advance, you may think of ways to complete the task that are quicker and easier.

Greater Focus on Each Task
Time blocking allows you to focus on one task at a time. You have probably already noticed a difference in your work when you focus on one thing at a time rather than trying to do multiple things at the same time. Focusing on a single task produces better results in less time.

Improved productivity
When you work in a focused manner, you improve your productivity. You will begin to mark tasks off your To-Do list in quick succession, which will make everyone happy.

Less Stress
Once you realize that your tasks are getting done, you will feel less overwhelmed and stressed, even in situations with tight deadlines.

Start by writing out 3-5 of your most important and urgent tasks along with any other necessary (though not always important) tasks that must be accomplished. Then, split those tasks into the amount of hours you will have each day (8 for most working days). Make sure to allot different-sized chunks for each task depending on how long you need to dedicate to it. Each chunk of time should be dedicated to a specific task (or set of tasks) that are important and necessary.

Google Calendar is a perfect tool for this, but a piece of paper will work just as well.

  1. Define the block of time
  2. Define the date & time
  3. Define the location
  4. Be descriptive
  5. Set reminders

Be honest
Don’t try to pack too many tasks into one day. Most people tend to underestimate how long tasks actually take. If you’ve never tracked your time before, it may take a while to get an accurate understanding of how long it actually takes to accomplish your tasks.

Schedule blocks of time for returning emails and calls
Make sure to assign blocks of time for this reactive work in order to avoid the usual distractions of answering phone calls and responding to emails.

Greatly reduce or remove distractions.
While blocking out time is a good method in theory, if you don’t stick to it in practice, then you are destined to fail. Sitting down for a couple of hours of deep focused work with a Twitter tab open, your phone notifications on, and your co-workers thinking that they can interrupt you at any time, is setting yourself up for failure.

Don’t be too specific.
This tip is based on our natural inability to realistically predict how long tasks will actually take. Keep your time blocks relatively vague, but in line with a very specific goal. For example, use “1 hour to work on ABC project” as opposed to “1 hour to write out my top 5 objectives”. That’s the cool thing about time-blocking…you just need to generalize your blocks and then get into action.

Create a Vision Board to Aid Accomplishing Your Goals

A vision board is a powerful visualization tool that you can use as inspiration for your journey toward your ideal life. Some people refer to it as a “dream board” or an “inspiration board.” No matter what you call it, it’s basically a collage of pictures, words and quotes that serve to remind you of your passion and purpose.

The inspirational collages serve as your image of the future - a tangible example, idea or representation of where you are going. They should represent your dreams, your goals, and your ideal life.

Your brain will work tirelessly to achieve the statements you give your subconscious mind. And when those statements are the affirmations and images of your goals, you are destined to achieve them.

By representing your goals with pictures and images you will strengthen and stimulate your emotions because your mind responds strongly to visual stimulation...  and your emotions are the vibrational energy that activates the Law of Attraction. The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” certainly holds true here.

If you have already defined your dreams, it’s time to illustrate them visually.

As you can see, you don’t have to be an artist to make a vision board! All you need are a few basic supplies and instructions to get started.

You’ll need:

  • a poster board, cork board or small canvas
  • a stack of old magazines
  • scissors
  • markers or paint
  • glue, tape, thumbtacks or pins
  • a photo of yourself (optional)


Set aside about an hour to complete your vision board. Go to a quiet space in your home where you can concentrate on yourself for a little while.


Create a relaxing atmosphere. Put on music. Light a few candles. Close your eyes and take a moment to reflect on your big goals and dreams. What do you want your ideal life to look like? Brainstorm. Journal. Or, just wing it!


Cut out images from magazines that represent the life you want to live. For example, if you want to become financially independent and work from anywhere you might clip a picture of someone working on a boat with a laptop. If you want to find a great romantic partner, you might snip pictures of happy couples smiling at each other.


Place the photo of yourself in the middle of the board (optional). Then, paste or pin your magazine images on your board. There’s no “right way” to arrange your images. You can fill the board with pictures or just have a few posted all over on the board.


Use your markers or paint to write some special quotes your vision board. You can also just cut out words or phrases from the magazines to paste on your board that remind you of the life you want to live.


Display your vision board somewhere you’ll see it every day and feel inspired! If you like, you can also frame your vision board and hang it on your wall.

And there you have it – an easy, step-by-step process for creating a vision board to help you reach your goals. I hope it’s useful to you!