How To Stand Out From The Noise Of The Crowd & Get Your Audience’s Attention!
By Audra Oakes
Authenticity. This is a word that we hear very often nowadays. On social media we are connected to worlds we would not have connected with before. We hear the opinions, arguments, teachings and promises of many “professionals” in various areas and industries. How can we as leaders navigate these waters so as not to be irrelevant? Being authentic with your message is critical. How can we as healers, creatives, entrepreneurs and leaders ensure we are being authentic? We will discuss that in this article.
I am a Mother, Blogger, self-published author and Counselling Student. I realised the desire to help others heal from trauma, abuse, addiction and gain a positive mental attitude increase by the end of writing my book. I enrolled in University and began my training to become a Counsellor and immediately fell in love with the course content.
Studying to become a counsellor has made me even more aware of the importance for authenticity and how being authentic as professionals enable us to enrich our professional practices. My course has a Personal Development unit as a foundational unit of the course where we explore our own concerns, learn, grow, make goals and work towards them with clarity and authenticity. In this safe place, we get to discover who we are, what motivates us, what areas we need further development in, and set our goals accordingly.
It has been my own experience time and again that personal development is essential to being authentic and enriching our professional practice. As written in my own autobiography, My Red Sea: Journey From War To Peace, childhood trauma from abuse and circumstances beyond my control had a detrimental effect on my mental health. I became reclusive, depressed and felt powerless. As a way to deal with my emotional pain, I suppressed memories that held unresolved emotions and mindsets and became inauthentic in my representation of self. Through the course of personal development by way of receiving counselling, journaling and changing my mindset, my life changed for the better.
I define personal development as the ongoing commitment to operate at the highest level one can, by continuously improving skills, knowledge and abilities in their chosen field and applying these to self where relevant. A commitment to personal development empowers a professional to be effective in their chosen field as it ensures the tools and strategies taught in training are properly explored, and applied first with self, then with the client. By being committed to personal development, a professional is in a better position to remain authentic. So how do we separate ourselves from the noise and stand out in our chosen fields? One way is by being vulnerable.
I do not like being vulnerable but I have come to see that being vulnerable enables one to acknowledge the challenges and solutions necessary for their personal development. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable is necessary in order for personal development to be possible. Being vulnerable allows one to acknowledge the issues and challenges we are facing in our professional practices and the coping mechanisms we have utilised to help us deal with them. Even better, being vulnerable allows us to see with objectivity which strategies we are utilising or not and which ones are beneficial and sustainable in the long term.
According to Brené Brown, “vulnerability is showing up and letting ourselves be seen”, (Daring Greatly, Brené Brown Page 2). Without being vulnerable, I, for instance, would not be fully engaged, or be able to build an effective client-therapist relationship. I would have effectively put a mask on to hide my own truth. This will effectively put a barrier between myself and my client which would be detrimental to the client-therapist relationship which is needed to make therapy effective.
In the aforementioned book by Dr Brené Brown PhD, LMSW, she also stated that “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection”.
We must, therefore, make ourselves available to gain feedback from our clients, ask the questions that we need answers to without fear of judgement and admit to our mentors, teachers and our selves when we need guidance to improve our professional position. This leads us to the path of being truly authentic which truly resonates with our audiences, clients and colleagues.
Authenticity can be defined as being true to one’s own self. I was challenged to be authentic. It was either be true or be irrelevant. Embracing authenticity has allowed me to stand out, gain attention from the right audience and partner with the right individuals. I was recently invited to speak at an event in Perth Western Australia, organised by “One Billion Rising”, from an authentic connection I had made with a fellow colleague who happened to be part of the planning committee for the event! It was my first speaking engagement and I was stoked to see so many people come up to me and tell me that the speech had touched and resonated with them
This is what happens when we decide to be vulnerable, authentic and reject the fear to remain just another voice in the crowd. In being authentic, I can lead my client to be the same in the search for the goals they choose to set and the realisation of those goals. A client who is authentic in their presentation of self and the issues they wish to resolve will no doubt be in a better position to effectively receive personal development and the outcome they hope for through therapy.
I recently wrote an essay backed by academic research, and experience which concluded that personal development enhances professional practice by producing a professional who can truly understand the process and relationship required with their audience and clients. This in turn to leads to one’s professional practice being enriched and successful.
Without a continued commitment to being vulnerable (in the right context), and authentic, personal development is limited, making success a more arduous process than necessary. In making personal development a practice, a professional ensures they are authentic and equipped to attract and connect with their true client base, identify needs and introduce relevant and timely solutions. This is also essential to building and enriching our brand, reach and social impact. If you have a side hustle or full-time gig, you are leaders, warriors, healers and creators! Be authentic. Be you. Be faithful in bringing your true message to light and thereby connecting with your true audience needs.