Do you like your leaders inauthentic?
We are skeptical of leaders who lack authenticity. They seem to have hidden agendas, which scares us in a leader.
We want leaders to guide in stressful times, when we can't help ourselves. Difficult times are when hidden agendas hurt us most, when we are most vulnerable.
Having just published a book on how to develop leadership skills, I've been interviewed on dozens of podcasts. Laura Coe's podcast, The Art of Authenticity, and book, Emotional Obesity: A Philosophical Guide to Lighten Your Life, stand out for giving tools and examples that help you develop emotionally and become more authentic.
I found her emotional obesity analogy (she explains it below) simple and powerful. The more I thought about it, the more it enabled me to use tools and beliefs in one area of my life and apply them in another. Since physical fitness is more tangible for me, it made emotional fitness more tangible.
I interviewed Laura for more background and to see how the analogy helps.
What is emotional obesity?
Have you justified an unfulfilling job or stayed in a relationship you wanted to leave?
We've all been there. We may have justified it by telling ourselves it's what we have to do, others will approve, or guilt sways us. These justifications pile up to create a life we didn't choose.
Without our awareness, these ideas pile up on top of our true desires--we become weighed down. We become emotionally obese.
Our lives are the outcome of a steady diet of thoughts that are not aligned with our authentic desires and goals.
How does the analogy help us?
Most of us understand what it means to have gained a few unwanted pounds and their impact on our health. But we have not questioned the unwanted thoughts and beliefs that dictate our life decisions.
The analogy gives us something we are used to thinking about--physical weight--to anchor the abstract concept of the thoughts that weigh you down.
If you can start to think of some thoughts as unwanted "fat" that needs to be shed and "work them out," life can stop being heavy and start to feel lighter and more free.
How did you come up with the concept?
I woke up in my late 30's and had everything a person could imagine. The boxes were all checked: sold my company to a Fortune 500 company, beautiful house, nice car, 15 year relationship, healthy child, even a chocolate Labrador.
As satisfying as it was to have succeeded by the matrix defined by culture, I did not feel the level of contentment that I expected.
I quit my job with a singular intention: to find something more authentic. My assumption was that this would be a simple task, but it was anything but simple. I dove back into the philosophy that I loved in college and graduate school to discover what the ancients had to say about my lack of joy and contentment.
That was when it became clear that I was Emotionally Obese. I had created a life that met the standards of a collective culture's voice, but not my own. So I wrote a book about my journey to shed the weight.
Your podcast is called The Art of Authenticity. Is emotional obesity the opposite of authenticity? Is it what led you to focus on authenticity?
In short, yes. It was always about authenticity.
I just bumped into lots of unwanted thoughts that were in my way. Once I got into better emotional shape, I was able to return to the idea of authenticity.
Then I realized authenticity is complicated to do. I had thought you find what you love and then you are set. Like you get six pack abs and then you are in shape for life. If only!
Once I discovered how to act from my authentic truth, I realized that life keeps throwing curveballs. You have to keep on top of each moment. Each decision large or small required navigation.
I designed the podcast to showcase successful people living purposeful lives. The hope is that people can hear their stories and become or find deeper commitment to an authentic life.
How can Inc. readers develop more authenticity and lose their emotional obesity?
For entrepreneurs, losing emotional weight can be critical. The level of risk, stress, personal commitment needed to be a business owner can be crippling. Learning to master your emotional life is key.
First, you want to discover what holds you back. You can't fix what you can't see. I created a scale to help people locate exactly what holds them back.
Then, you want to workout the issue. If you struggle with say impostor syndrome or sudden bouts of anger you want to make sure these thoughts aren't in the way of your decisions.
I coach clients daily to help them remove the unwanted thoughts that get in the way of their decisions, so they can create a life they love and continue to make choices that inspire them daily.
From there, they find the joy, contentment, and calm that I believe we all desire.