Authenticity Through Trust And Service
HowHow can we understand the relationship between authenticity, trust and the direction we set for our lives.
Why are we so obsessed with authenticity? Partly, it’s because with so many options and choices presented to us each day, with the torrent of ideas, opinions and personalities that spill out of out of the media we consume every day, we feel “info-whelmed” trying to decide who and what to trust.
The Trust Equation
One of the best explanations of trustworthiness I’ve seen comes from Charles H. Green. His Trust Equation suggests that trustworthiness is measured by the sum of someone’s credibility, reliability and intimacy (how safe and secure we feel with them), divided by their self-orientation.
Being too self-absorbed can undermine someone who otherwise seems likeable and professional. This is why we value authenticity so much; we are looking for a window into people’s motivations, into the longer story of who they are, where they’ve come from and where they are going.
Between Art And Commerce
In the most simplistic sense, we see art as nothing but self-expression and commerce as simply about getting money. Both clichés are selfish and wrong. Art isn’t art because of the self-expression, but because of the connection, the resonance, it has with those who experience it, the way it serves their need for beauty, truth, freedom or inspiration. And, commerce is possible only because goods and services meet needs and solve problems for consumers.
Service might feels like an uncomfortable goal. But, I’d like you to think about service not just in terms of satisfying clients, fans or followers, but more as the bigger, audacious dream you have for the work you do. What you serve, is a way of framing and identifying what problems, beyond your immediate need for food, shelter and affection, are you trying to solve?
Unless we can answer the “what/how do you serve” questions, we risk scoring low on the trust equation and appearing to be inauthentic and self-serving.
Show People Your Road
I believe our obsession with authenticity is a natural evolutionary reaction to the amount of salesmanship we see online; to all the relentless, often false, personal branding and general hype. It’s a refined, natural progression from Green’s trust equation. Authenticity involves revealing our purpose, being honest about the facts of our situation and having some significant, worthwhile contribution to make.
When you meet someone who feels authentic, you get a sense of the road they are travelling on, the places they’ve been in their life and where they might be going. This isn’t necessarily every detail of their biography, but it’s enough to show us what the big picture of their life is, what greater goals they serve.