The Misconception of Authenticity with Gina London
“Authenticity is the degree to which a person’s actions are consistent with their identified values and their desired outcomes.” — Gina London
I had the pleasure of speaking with Gina London, Emmy award-winning former CNN correspondent and anchor turned motivational trainer, executive advisor, and keynote speaker.
She is the CEO of Language of Leadership LTD., where she uses her passion for people and storytelling to support leaders and help them better connect, lead, and inspire others.
- The definition of authenticity
- Adopting a growth mindset to lead a more authentic life
- Authenticity is more than words and thoughts
The definition of authenticity
What is authenticity? Practicing authenticity is more than being candid or letting yourself overshare, and it’s not only a buzzword.
“I don't want the idea of authenticity to be a stop sign to people's growth and their development and their improvement.” Gina shares, “Your self-acceptance can live in harmony with your self-improvement and development.” Being authentic is not a green light to drop all personal development and settle into bad habits.
“The definition that I use for my clients is drawn from psychology. And it says that authenticity is the degree to which a person's actions are consistent with their identified values and desired outcomes.” she continues.
A person's authenticity should be the degree to which they are consistently behaving in a way that connects with their identified values and desired outcomes.
“That requires us to, first of all, know full well what our values are. And the important connection then is what our desired outcomes are for any particular situation.” Gina explains.
Adopting a growth mindset to lead a more authentic life
If we cling to a “take me as I am” mentality, we risk stunting our relationships and goals. Developing a filter and taking responsibility for our behavior creates a more cohesive environment and opens the door for valuable connections.
“Understand your baseline, understand your natural tendencies, embrace your ability to connect your behaviors with your values, and the growth mindset, that you can retrain your neural pathways.” Gina continues.
For example, we can cultivate positivity if we have a negative baseline in our personality, or we can develop a curiosity for others if we’re more self-involved.
“These types of neural pathway changes take—first of all—awareness of who you are, and then the desire to become that. And then the most important component is the day-to-day, hard work and discipline,” she explains.
Those three components—Awareness, Desire, and Day-to-day work—are part of ADD, Gina’s process meant to support growth mindsets and authenticity within her clients.
“Those 75 to 90,000 scattering thoughts that researchers say come through any individual's mind throughout the day like popcorn—we can't control them, but we can disrupt them. We can stop them, we can guide them, we can direct them.” she continues. When we practice rerouting unwanted or misaligned thought patterns in daily, mundane situations, we set ourselves up for success in high-stakes environments.
“Authenticity is not a finish line achievement. It's a lifelong endeavor. And that's what makes it so beautiful.” Gina shares, “Because you can constantly be expanding your growth mindset, reevaluating your values, learning from other people, and opening your eyes to different experiences, approaches, cultures.”
Authenticity is more than words and thoughts
Our body language, facial expressions, and tones portray our beliefs and feelings. Every flick of the eyebrow says something about our inner dialogue. It’s our responsibility to craft our responses and outward displays of character to meet each situation with grace and authenticity to our values. We can learn our voices like an instrument and take control of our expressions.
“What's our body language? Do we even know what it is? Most of us are good at reading other people's body language, but not good at purposefully delivering signs of understanding, listening, or agreement.” Gina explains, “We wonder why people don't understand us or know the real us—because we don't know the real us, either.”
Another structure Gina uses with her clients is AIM, designed to help them prepare for meeting new people.
Even one minute before meeting with someone else, think for a second—who's the audience? Not just who they are demographically. What are their hopes, dreams, and fears? And how can you reassure them and not divide or evoke fear?
Spend some time thinking about what action you want that person to take as a result of this conversation. What's your intent? What is the desired outcome or goal? Is it mutually beneficial with this person? Are we negotiating? Can we find something that we both agree on?
What is it you’re trying to deliver? Is it feedback? How specific, how precise? How actionable is it? Is it delivering your best self so you can win that interview? Have you written it down as a sentence? And then, even more importantly, have you said it aloud so you can use muscle memory to deliver it?
“If you imagine a stool, it needs three legs to be balanced and sturdy. And if you're only focusing on content, that's one leg of the stool, but also your vocal variety, tone, pitch, pace—the elements we use in our voice.” Gina explains, “Then that third leg of that stool is the body language—how do we take control of our facial expressions, posture, and gestures to be more purposeful?”
Developing our authentic selves impacts our connection with friends, family, and loved ones, all the way to our colleagues.
How do you want to show up for people? What are your core desired outcomes?