In a world full of people pushing their own agendas and their programs and focused on self-promotion, it is refreshing to meet someone who is giving, selfless and authentic. Have you ever met someone like this? More importantly, have you ever learned a lesson from that person that stuck with you?

As a busy 30 year old woman, making new friends outside of my niche doesn't occur all that often. If anything, I connect with like minded women who are paving the way for others in their respective fields, we bond over that aspect. I recently became friends with a neighbor of mine, and we're totally different from one another.

She's a Nurse from Uganda, she's bubbly, loud, and her laugh is contagious. We've become "Farmers Market" friends, and every weekend we explore new parts of town with each other, eating our way through the weekend with reckless abandon.

We have similar interests in food and conversation, and most importantly she doesn't want help with her own business, or to "pick my brain" or even talk about E-commerce. Did you hear that? It was just my gigantic sigh of relief.

She never picks up the phone while we're together, instead focusing on enjoying the time spent. She never complains, even when we get stuck walking in the rain, drive in circles for 30 minutes, or when the two Farmers Markets I took us too both are mysteriously nowhere to be found. She speaks her mind, there's no beating around the bush with her.

What i've learned, is that a worthwhile friendship requires work. Not the drama laden, foot dragging kind of work that may come to mind, but the kind where you actually better yourself. She's taught me valuable lessons that I can parlay into both my personal and professional life.

Here are four tips to start exploring your authentic self.

1. Recognize that being authentic is difficult but there are rewards

Authenticity is about being genuine and real. However, our society isn't used to authenticity and often questions its motives. Sounds like a pain, you might think. So why should you be yourself? Because, as the saying goes, everyone else is already taken.

Authenticity requires self-knowledge and self-awareness. Authentic people accept their strengths and weaknesses. They are accountable. They are connected to their values and desires and act deliberately in ways that are consistent with those qualities. At the end of the day, you'll be happier and more fulfilled pursuing these things than someone else's idea of success.

2. Know who you are

The first step to authenticity is to know who you are. Take as much time as you need to think about what you want to accomplish in your life and what would make you truly happy. What are your values? Brush aside any thoughts of other people's ideas of what matters.

You have one life, and you don't want to have any regrets at the end. Once you know what your values are, decisions that you have to make become easier because you are free to choose things that move you closer to your values. Your decisions should almost make themselves once you know who you really are.

3. Have an open mind

Success isn't just about money, contacts, a huge loft in the city or a house on the beach and glittery parties to attend every weekend. Of course, success could look like that for you, and if it does, by all means, go for it. But most of us want something else from life. Think about how you are able to reach your goals and help others at the same time.

4. Once you reach your goal, share your success with others

You've probably heard the expression that success is twice as sweet when shared. Once you've figured out the secret to your own happiness, don't be afraid to spread the world so that others may be able to share in your success. Don't be afraid to give away your idea -- it will be credited back to you and often bring rewards and recognition your way.

When you assert yourself as someone who is not solely out for their own benefit, you'd be amazed at how many more people actually want to work with you. You'd be a unicorn in the business world, people gravitate towards those who are enjoyable to be around.

These are my favorite kinds of people, and the ones that I want to help achieve their own goals. Take a look at your own behaviors, and make sure you're not being a parasitic friend or business contact.

Published on: Dec 23, 2017
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