Get Real: Cultivating Genuine Authenticity

What does it mean to be genuine? Why is it important, and how can we cultivate it in our careers as classical musicians?

Being genuine, at its most basic, means being real – sincere, truthful, acting without pretense. In a world where terms like “fake news” and “spin” are part of our everyday vocabulary, genuine people are a rare commodity.

Genuine - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Genuine vs Authentic

There is a lot of talk in personal development circles about authenticity – showing up in your life as the person you really are, not just who you think people want you to be.

As children, we’re bombarded with the message to just be yourself, which, though solid advice, gives us the idea that there is one fundamental, unchanging self we are supposed to be. If we can just figure out who that person is, and what she’d do in any given situation, we’ll be set.

Some people agonize over discovering this self, constantly second-guessing every decision, trying to get it right. Others latch on to a particular definition of themselves early on, shunning new information, and resisting ideas that might threaten their concept of who they are.

But here’s the truth – as humans we are supposed to change. We are supposed to learn new things, change our minds, grow into ourselves day by day. If you are doing life right, the ideas you have today are different than those you had ten years ago. Some of your core beliefs may be the same – but, on the other hand, even those may change over time.

Authenticity is about being true to yourself – your ever-changing self. It’s an inner journey.

Being genuine, on the other hand, is about being truthful with others about who you are, what you think, and what you’re after.

Genuine vs Jerk

Being genuine does not mean operating with no filter. It doesn’t mean you say exactly what you think no matter the consequences. In fact, if you behave that way, the message you’ll be sending is that you are a genuine, authentic, arrogant jerk.

Thankfully, you can be genuine without being honest-to-a-fault.

Encourage, Don’t Manipulate

We are all master manipulators. We don’t mean to be (well, some of us mean to be) and often don’t even realize what we are doing.

Anytime we try to persuade someone to do something or agree with us, we are manipulating the situation. We aren’t thinking about being honest, we’re thinking about how we can best present our side so that the other person will do what we want. This is just human nature. We are conditioned to wonder, “What’s in it for me?”

Practicing genuineness means we have to consciously break out of this mindset. One of the easiest ways to do this is to look for opportunities to encourage other people.

Look for opportunities to praise, lift up, be grateful. Instead of thinking, “What do I want from this situation?”, think “What is there here that I can appreciate and encourage?”

This shift helps move you out of the mindset of manipulation – it allows you to practice being real and genuine without pretense. If there is nothing to praise (there almost always is) just keep your mouth shut. Silence is genuine too. 

While you’re busy encouraging, make sure you aren’t slipping into schmoozing – trying to get something you want by flattery. That’s counterproductive! And not necessary.

It’s possible to book a gig, negotiate payment, and handle all business dealings in a straightforward way. After all, people need the service you provide, and you need to be paid. Be upfront, be genuine and you’ll be amazed how many people will be eager to work with you.   

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.