Authenticity – the courage to be yourself

“That’s just not right…let me explain further…” I said to my fellow judges.

Sales Awards

Many years ago, on a number of occasions, after being a shortlisted awards finalist and runner-up myself, I was invited to be a judge on the National Sales Awards in the UK. The key part of the role was to attend an annual judging day, at a swanky hotel in London. There, all the shortlisted candidates would attend to be judged. Individuals and teams would be interviewed and considered one by one, by a small judging panel of sales industry experts in order to be considered for an award. Yes – I was classified as an expert – please don’t laugh!!


I recall, one year when a sales team gave a very impressive presentation, it was outstanding. My fellow judges remarked on how fresh and striking it was. I quizzed the team intensely on their efforts, their preparations and quite unique ideas, seeking clarification on how they came up with the concept and how they’d developed it into a presentation for the day.

They shared their story.


Yet, unbeknownst to the sales team, I had been a judge 2 years previously in the corresponding category, where a sales team from the same company, had given the exact, identical presentation. Something my fellow judges had thought was fresh and unique, was in fact a rehash of some ideas shared previously.  Yes the presentation was outstanding, but the responses given by the sales team to my questions left me with a rather sour taste. Something wasn’t quite right, I felt we were in a sense being deceived, being played even.  That’s when I then explained to my fellow judges, why I’d questioned the team so directly,  seeking clarification, the way I had.

After all that was said and done, the judging panel determined that the team wouldn’t make the special awards evening a few months later.  Why?… Simply because they lacked genuine authenticity.

It was a powerful lesson learned for all, about the nature of truth and how it sets you free.

Never dissemble.

Authenticity is everything!  It is the power to be yourself.


The energy in the room was high. Then in a reflective moment one participant shared “I can relate to that” and tears started to flow freely.

The atmosphere changed.

We had already created a safe environment for sharing that day, but the authenticity in the room soared to a different level. Attentively, everyone focused on the personal story being shared. It was a moment of high emotion and an intimate turning point in the workshop. In opening up in such a manner the participant had taken a great risk in approaching a vulnerable area in their life by sharing it so deeply. The silence was palpable.

Unwittingly, by speaking so candidly and tenderly, the participant had completely engaged everyone in the room.

Then it happened.

I watched, as those on either side felt impressed to reach out in a compassionate and reassuring way by physically touching our storyteller.

The whole experience had a profound effect on all of us in the room. There was a feeling of connection, togetherness and unity for a fleeting moment in time.

Deep and meaningful learning moments come quite unexpectedly at times. When they do, don’t be afraid to welcome them, gently explore them, embrace them and cherish them….forever.

Can you reach out and touch someone today?


Love her or loathe her, the long-lasting legacy of the Oprah Effect is legendary. Oprah lives and breathes authenticity. For years, everything and everyone Oprah endorsed, was akin to the Midas touch. Let your imagination run riot with me for a moment by applying the Oprah effect to some of our global challenges.

Brexit – Boris Johnson, Michel Barnier, Nicola Sturgeon, Arlene Foster, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage are all invited to meet Oprah. After some healthy debate, negotiation, hilarity and a potent mix of the Oprah magic – a resolution is miraculously agreed.

Trump – Political persuasions aside; opposites attract. Trump announces Oprah as his running mate for the next Presidential campaign – in utter disbelief the world is stunned! Maybe its Fake News – but no Oprah has received an answer to her prayer and the Oprah effect kicks into play.

North Korea – Kim Jong Un meets Oprah. Missiles cease, sanctions are removed, the world is a safer place.

In a whirlwind world tour, Oprah meets all the other G20 leaders – Climate Change, Pollution, Poverty, Terrorism, Corruption, Famine, Economics and every other global challenge is resolved.

Yes – it’s a stretch of the imagination – but isn’t it great to dream. Authentic leaders dream often of better days ahead. If that’s you, step up – the world needs you NOW!