Person lying down with book on face. Is this how we imagine rest?

How can we learn to be in greater integrity with our true selves?

What are the benefits of showing up more as who we are?

And how can it shift what’s possible for us as team members and leaders? 

We hear about the importance of “authenticity”, “vulnerability” and “integrity” a lot these days. If you’ve ever wondered why finding your own integrity is so important, or how you can begin to show up with more authenticity in a professional context, read on. 

We’ve asked our Global Warriors facilitators and some of our programme participants to share their experience of being who they are, and the simple tool we use to help them do that. 

The I AM model

At Global Warriors, we use a model called “I AM” when we work with clients.

This model helps us get in touch with who we really are – so we can start to show up more authentically. It allows us to understand WHY we tend to arrive in the workplace with a set of “masks” or “filters” already in place… and how we can begin to peel them away, to rediscover our unique selves.

Here’s facilitator Saralyn explaining how the model works:

How does being authentic change things in the workplace?

So why is this so important? What impact does the I AM model have, in allowing us to expand our impact and develop our careers?

We spoke to Sarah Meegan, an alumni of one of our women’s leadership and development programs.

In her experience, the I AM model and connecting to herself unlocked new opportunities.

“We’re almost fully remote, and I think you can sit with a lot of things because you’re physically by yourself in a room most of the time. But after doing the Jump programme with Global Warriors – it was the first time in a long time that I really felt unstuck.

For a long time I’d felt that I didn’t know what to do next. I mean theoretically, on paper I knew I wanted to “advance my career”. Be a manager, or go up a job grade.

But I feel those were just surface level things. I said I wanted them, but I didn’t really feel like I wanted them.

For the first time,[ after experiencing the I AM Model,] I felt like I was ready to take on new things.

All of a sudden all these options started popping up in front of me. A new project I wanted to do, or realizing “I want to raise my hand for this”. Opportunities just started moving. I realised – there’s more to me than just work. Even though work is one outlet, that’s not everything of who I am.

And I think maybe those other pieces of who I was were allowed to come through and that’s part of feeling unstuck.

All these other pieces of myself can contribute to the workplace. And, there’s other stuff that is just as impactful in my life. And a surprising moment was when I realised: yes, this is leadership. It’s less to do with being a leader and more to do with being my authentic self.”

When we connect to who we really are, rather than the version we’ve tried to project of ourselves to those around us, new opportunities can open up.
And even experienced leaders can find their outlook is transformed when they connect to themselves, instead of the person they think others want to see.

Authenticity vs. Imposter syndrome

As well as allowing us to step into our leadership capabilities, learning to connect to ourselves can help us move past blocks like imposter syndrome – where we doubt our own abilities, and feel that in order to be successful we need to be “playing a role”.

Global Warriors facilitator Jac reflects on this:

“I never speak to anyone who doesn’t say I’ve got imposter syndrome. Basically it’s where we come out of our authentic self, our I am, and we start to fear that people might find out what we think about ourselves.

So we mask up, and we pretend to be something else. It is purely and simply about getting back to our authenticity and to nurturing our authenticity, nurturing what is good in there.

That’s a huge realisation for people to realise that every person in the world has these limiting beliefs, these doubts about themselves. It shifts them from that fixed place of “I can’t… I don’t… I won’t…” to “Oh – what’s possible?”

My favourite part about teaching it is to see the joy.”

We have no doubt that being able to connect to our unique selves is one of the most powerful shifts individuals, organisations and leaders can make.

But what about the cynics, who think that all this talk of “integrity” and “authenticity” is just another set of corporate buzzwords?

The sceptic’s story

“The first time I saw it I thought it was rubbish.”

These are the words of Dave Harris, Global Warriors facilitator and experienced equine coach, when he looks back on his experience with the I AM model.

Now, he understands that that cynicism came from a place of deep-rooted insecurity.

“The reason I thought it was rubbish was because I was immersed in those pretend and fear layers. Part of me didn’t want to think that so much behaviour was driven from fear. What I now know is our negative behaviour is often driven by fear… of being found out, or fear of not being good enough.

Once I got over myself a little bit, I started looking at it more clearly and and how it applied to me. I was in a corporate role, deeply immersed in those outer layers. You feel like a bit of a fool when you’re so successful and you feel so miserable – experiencing feelings of not being good enough, and in huge doubt of my own capability.

When I actually discovered the model and dived deep into it, then my experience began to make sense. What I realised as an equine coach was – it was authenticity that horses yearned for. I think it really helped me with my relationship with people as well. Because we talk about horses requiring us to be authentic and congruent – people do as well. What I realised was, once I let go of all this rubbish, I was pretty good at being authentic.

Whatever it is you perceive to be wrong with you, once you say, ‘well – this is just what it is’ it loses all its power. You’re not afraid anymore.

What’s so powerful about the I AM model is it doesn’t matter which culture that you’re in. Certain businesses discourage you to be authentic. I think they want you to be this bulletproof, perfect, person. The irony is it’s impossible to do.

I used to do a martial art called Aikido and the intention was to be centred all the time. We asked our teacher “how do you do it? You’re always centred.”

He replied “I’m not – but I’m an expert at noticing when I’m not.”

Life’s not about perfection. It’s about being present and conscious enough to notice that you’re behaving a certain way – and then making a choice about whether or not you want to continue.

How can you be more of who you are?

“Once we are fully aware of our real identities, we have the power to conquer our future.” – Eesha Berry, programme participant

Here are a few suggestions for journal, conversation or reflection points.

1) How congruent do you feel your professional identity is with the other parts of you – as a family member, friend, individual, child?  Watch the I AM video again and see if you can find a way to recall the real you that lies underneath the masks you’ve developed over the years.

2) One definition of Integrity is “the state of being whole or undivided”. Rather than rejecting or feeling shame about who you are, can you allow yourself to exist with many different facets, acknowledging the role each part plays in your past and future achievements?

3) Often it takes a small ripple to create a big change. Can you let your coworkers feel comfortable with who they are? Can you make your team a place where it’s ok to be you? How can you invite the circle of people you are in closest contact with to feel valued and safe to be authentic, human and imperfect?

If you’d like to find out more about the tools and approach we use in our work with organisations of all sizes, get in touch here.

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