The Power of Authenticity

The afternoon of October 8, my wife Elizabeth called and shared with me the most unfortunate news…her first cousin Tedford – whom she had grown up with and adored – passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 40. He left behind a wife and two sons, four and seven years old. Our immediate reaction was twofold – “How can this be? Why Tedford?”

In attending Tedford’s funeral, his best friend since childhood, George, gave the eulogy. George talked about how blessed every one of us in the sanctuary had been by knowing Tedford. The fact that we had all been graced by Tedford’s generosity, zest for life, selflessness and – most importantly – his AUTHENTICITY, had made all of our lives better.

Tedford was someone who would light up a room by his presence. When he talked to you, he made you feel like the center of attention, as both important and relevant to him. He put others before himself in everything he did, in work and in play. In spite of his success practicing law, Tedford was “called” to open his own practice and help the less fortunate. In sum, Tedford represented everything you would want your spouse, son, daughter, sibling or friend to be.

Tedford’s passing and the subsequent eulogy helped me zero in on the fact that life is short. As such, we need to maximize our time on this earth, doing what we can to make a difference in the areas where we have passion and that give us purpose and meaning – both personally and professionally.

Truth or Grace?

Being authentic is both an art and a science. It involves knowing the situation as well as the individual you are interacting with, and engaging that person in the appropriate manner.

This morning, our church had a guest Pastor from Woodlands, Texas United Methodist Church (Rob Renfroe) speak on turning “compassion into action”. The focus of his message was determining when to tell the truth to someone versus when it is appropriate to show grace.

To explain the difference, he shared several examples: when we go to the doctor, we want (and expect) the truth about our health and test results; when we visit with someone that is sick, depressed or having a bad day, it is important to show them grace and let them know they are loved and that everything will be alright.

Trust in the workplace is hard to establish and easy to lose. Leaders that are authentic, truthful and know when to show grace are more able to connect with their employees and establish longer lasting relationships.

I am determined to focus on each of these areas in all of my roles … as a father, husband, dad, entrepreneur, business partner and coach.

Think about your workplace … How many interactions would you say you have on a daily basis? In what percentage of those interactions are you displaying authenticity and digging deeper to find out whether the person needs you to be truthful or graceful? Can you do more? What would others say?

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