Authenticity Unleashes Our True Potential
 In Big Dog Series

Brandon Sutton is our Fifth Big Dog and he gets us back to the “getting naked on your website” theme I started on Day One. Big Dogs just be who they are. That is all.

Authenticity Unleashes Our True Potential

by Brandon Sutton

When Judi asked me if I would contribute to this series, I was honored and excited all at once.  I felt strongly that I could provide value to the community by speaking with my true voice and sharing some of my life experiences, some of which are blog related and some not.

Unleashing your true potential can be very personal, and each person has his or her own version of what potential is untapped.  What is universal, however, is the concept that unleashing your potential requires you to be your authentic self.

Not formulated or emulated.  Just you, blemishes and all.

Not long ago, I was unsure if I could truly be myself and be accepted by others, especially my clients.  What I found is that once I got clear on who I am and began to share openly and honestly, the world began to unfold in ways I could never have imagined.

Here’s the thing: only you can determine what your true self is and who you want to be as a person.  You get to decide.  And this is going to require you to make some choices, some of which will be difficult.  Some people jump in headfirst into a new way of living, while others dip their toes in and slowly ease into the way of living and sharing that feels right to them.

You get to decide.

There are no prescriptive paths to follow, so there’s no reason to feel that you have to live up to anyone’s way of doing things.  The only prescription is that you must, no matter what, be true to yourself and your convictions.  To do any less is setting yourself up for failure.

Pecos Wilderness - New MexicoI was always somewhat of a rebel, and didn’t really fit in to any particular group or clique during my formative years.  I thought of myself as a chameleon that could blend in with almost any crowd.  This was partially a survival skill I learned at a young age growing up in suburban (borderline rural) Georgia. I learned not to say too much in certain situations so that I wouldn’t be singled out or picked on.

Somewhere along the way, I was no longer willing to play that game.  I still have my chameleon skills and can get along with just about anyone if I’m forced into a situation that requires it.  But over the course of many years, I found myself caring less and less what people thought about me and more and more about how I felt about myself.

A little over a year ago, I made a conscious decision to follow my heart and abandon the idea of going to work for a big agency and somehow creating this utopian position that would allow me to do the work I was called to do within the confines of a company that had set expectations from its clients.  I began to work with who I wanted to work with, and I could see an immediate shift. The work was more rewarding, and clients began to emerge that I would not have known about before.

Still, I wasn’t expressing myself fully.  I would test the waters with my writing, touching on ‘woo woo’ type subjects from time to time.  Then, something happened.  I found my true voice through a series of poignant experiences in the Spring and Summer of 2010.

For me, the BP oil spill was a major catalyst.  I was so deeply affected by the spill that I had to do something to make an impact.  I organized an all-volunteer documentary expedition and went down to the coast to hear from the people in local communities and learn about what was going on from their perspective. Out of this experience came a film, a photo exhibit, lots of blog entries, and a public exhibition at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.  It was through this work that my calling became clear to me.

I realized that I had the ability to lead others and make a positive impact on the world by sharing from the heart.

It didn’t come from following anyone’s advice on how to live, or emulating a specific person’s path.  Instead, I followed what my heart was telling me, and I remained open to possibilities that unfolded along the way.

The interesting thing throughout this process is that people I have known for years have responded with the kindest feedback I could ever imagine.  I put my thoughts out there for the world on my blog each week.  I don’t write for anyone specifically. Instead, I write what I feel. Sometimes it resonates with others and sometimes I’m not so sure.

What I learned is that engagement on my blog is difficult to determine based on direct feedback.  I used to think that the number of comments was the measure of success in blogging.  I admit, I still long for more engagement in post comments, mainly because I enjoy connecting with other people and hearing their perspective.  But over time, I realized that my posts were reaching much further than what I thought, whether comment counts were high or not.

Often times, I’ll be in conversation with a friend or family member who will reference something I’ve written in the past, but they never made a comment on.  Lately, I’ve been looking at the number of Facebook shares and Tweets as a much better indicator of how much the message is resonating.  I haven’t really found a pattern between shares and comments, and admittedly I’m not one to over-analyze things.

One measure that I pay particular attention to is the bounce rate in Google Analytics. The bounce rate shows you the percentage of visitors that come to your site and close out without navigating further into the site. A few months ago when I first started really paying attention to it, it was around 19%, which I thought was pretty low.  As I write this post, the bounce rate is 3.3%.  This is incredibly low.  This means that only 3.3% of the visitors to my site view one page and then leave.  So, people are digging around and learning more.

The reason I bring up the above is not to brag.  I bring it up because I believe it illustrates the power of speaking with authenticity and letting your true self shine through.  Over the past few months, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and written about exactly what’s in my heart.  I’m going for it all the way, so to speak, and clearly it’s resonating.

I long to connect with others and share thoughts and feelings.  Although I don’t write for a particular audience, I always invite participation on my blog and in the various channels I use to promote it. I don’t have all the answers, and love learning from others who show up and speak up.

Blogs can be the source of togetherness and promote the sharing of ideas with people around the world.  Consistently inviting visitors to participate is a great way of maintaining a healthy blog.

Unleashing your blog’s potential, or even your own inner potential can be greatly enhanced by showing up with your authentic self, speaking with your true voice, and being open to what you hear in return.

Thank you for showing up here and being a part of this community that Judi has brought together.  I hope something you read will be helpful.

What do you think? Does this resonate? What are some examples you can share where speaking with authenticity has expanded your own potential?

( If you haven’t signed up you can do so here and get the daily e-mail reminders.)

Photo: Pecos Wilderness, New Mexico

Recommended Posts
Showing 18 comments
  • judi knight
    Reply

    Brandon, Thanks for being one of my Big Dogs on the series. I know for me it is easier to be authentic one on on then it is when I write. Partly I have had to work to overcome that academic training that beats out of you anything personal. I also see people having trouble finding their authentic voice when they leave higher level Corporate positions. Very hard to change and be authentic when you have been writing for the "man". Have to be mainstream, be safe, don't make waves. The thing is that is just BORING. We know when we are engaged by someone's writing and when we are not and a lot of that stems from someone trying to appeal to everyone. When you do that you end up appealing to no one.
    Keep up the great work. I am glad you are in my pack!

    • @Brandon101
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Judi. We saw a glowing example of how showing up with our authentic selves unleashes our potential with your first post this week. You could have played it safe, but instead you really showed up and the community responded with great support and encouragement. I think deep down, we are all longing to express ourselves authentically, and this is becoming increasingly a part of who we are in the workplace.

      I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for including me!
      My recent post Inviting Collaboration Through Social Media

  • @Brandon101
    Reply

    That's what it's all about, Al. Glad you are here!
    My recent post Inviting Collaboration Through Social Media

  • Sian Robertson
    Reply

    Couldn't agree more. Authenticity rocks…in blogs, conversations, life.
    My recent post Swell Sounds 3- The Film Festival Edition

  • Farnaz Wallace
    Reply

    Nice. One of my favorite topics.

  • @DooneyPug
    Reply

    Brandon

    I always like reading your posts, even if I don't always comment. I guess that's kind of selfish so I will have to work on that.

    Being authentic is important in all aspects of life, if for no other reason than it's easier. But, easy to say is not the same as easy to do. I enjoyed this post in particular because you illustrate your path from a little guarded and reserved to discovering your own true heart and path in life and your enjoyment with it all. And you are sharing it with us!

    So glad you are here, and at the risk of repeating myself, so glad I got to meet you last year.

    Lori

  • @Brandon101
    Reply

    Thanks so much, Lori. As long as the message is resonating with you, it doesn't matter if you comment. The important thing is that it sparks something within you that can inspire action.

    You saw part of this journey unfolding last year at CIP, which was definitely a pivotal experience for me. I am so thankful I was there and I got to meet all of you lovely ladies! I think Al is going to steal my thunder this year so I'm not the only man at CIP round two. 🙂
    My recent post Inviting Collaboration Through Social Media

    • @lisarobbinyoung
      Reply

      I LOVE that you have embraced the idea that your blog – as much as it shares from your heart – isn't about you. So many people get agitated when folks don't comment on their blog, and often, it has nothing to do with the content. It has more to do with where the reader's at in their own journey.

      As one who's spent the better half of my life trying to be as open as possible, it surprised me to find how much resistance I've been chewing on as I build the Business Action Hero tribe. There's so much of me that's no big deal to share publicly. But this.. somehow I find it difficult to convey the meaning using the words I already know. I'm having to learn an entirely new vocabulary – and put it in context – which is thrilling and scary at the same time. It's like the first drop on the rollercoaster, I think.

      You got to see the makings of all this at CIP last year, which was one of the most excruciatingly painful and brilliantly wonderful experiences of my life.

      I'm doubly thrilled to hear you'll be at #CIP part deux. I'm looking forward to seeing your "sprinkler". 🙂

      • @Brandon101
        Reply

        Thanks, Lisa. It's funny you mentioned the drop on a rollercoaster, seeing how I get really excited about riding them. The thing is, it might be scary at first, but then I tend to seek out one that's taller, faster, etc. In order to get to the thrilling part, you have to move through the fear first. Great metaphor! 🙂

        I remember watching you come alive during CIP – it was like the pent up energy of a lifetime was being released. Seeing you blossom now is such a gift.

        Thank you so much! I'll be practicing my moves for CIP part two. 😉
        My recent post Grateful for Connection

  • @Brandon101
    Reply

    That is very kind of you, Callahan. I really appreciate the feedback that the writing feels like a conversation. That is a very nice compliment. Being in community is indeed powerful, which is why a blog series like this can be so powerful. Judi deserves a big high five for facilitating this conversation for sure.

    Your point about naming/claiming your inauthentic behaviors is very important because it implies that we don't have to be perfect. The act of acknowledging the inauthentic behaviors doesn't mean we have to get it right every time, but when you know, it's harder to keep doing it. Awareness of when we are slipping is the first step toward being more authentic.

    Thanks for the great points here, Callahan!
    My recent post Inviting Collaboration Through Social Media

  • @Brandon101
    Reply

    Hello Tim – you've touched on the topic that is very near and dear to my heart. When you get a chance, check out http://spiritofthegulfcoast.com. There is a 30 minute film that highlights our journey down to the coast last Summer as well as a running blog of ongoing updates.

    I love that you have taken a stand and rejected driving – this is a huge deal and one that I greatly admire. We should connect offline at some point. It sounds like we have a lot of beliefs in common.

    Thanks for showing up and making the world a better place. It feels like more and more people are experiencing this kind of shift now.

    No on the oil sands ads. I don't watch tv and thankfully I haven't seen any online. I can imagine though.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful comment!
    My recent post Inviting Collaboration Through Social Media

    • Tim
      Reply

      Sounds good. The commercials I was speaking of run on Hulu like 3 out 4 ads. No cable here, that stuff is horrible. So bad. We should meet up one day and I would love to actually know if the waters in the Gulf around St. Pete in particular are actual clean or not. I checked out the site and I'm gonna check out the film later on today. Thanks!
      My recent post Gallery Up and Running

  • @newmoon2010
    Reply

    Thanks Brandon,for "Keepin It Real", when you are authentic its speaks for itself, there's no faking it necessary, however in the world today, when we have to be so careful about what we speak and what we do, makes most of us fear living out our true selves in order to be "normal". when we expose our true indenity and not our represenative we are sometimes called rebels, but that's just it, when you act out your inner self you scare most people around you because you dance from a different beat than they do. I've always been different from the norm in every aspect of my life and I'm proud to be different,not in an arrogant way, but the way that makes me feel happy and exciting, that's why I chose network marketing as my new biz platform and social media as the engine that propels it, love your passion and energy in this post.

    • @Brandon101
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment. I'd like to think that authentic is the new 'normal' and that we really don't have to tip toe around how we present ourselves. I just read a great book called True North and the author uses the metaphor of a house as he invites the readers to imagine the different rooms representing various scenarios (job, family, friends, etc.), and asks them if they can speak with the same voice in every room of the house. I thought that was an interesting way of thinking about it. Glad the post resonated with you.
      My recent post Inviting Collaboration Through Social Media

  • Amy Oscar
    Reply

    Brandon, I left a comment last week that was somehow lost in cyberspace… but I wanted to come back again, and let you know I was here – and that I’m so impressed by your writing and by your work in the world. What shines out for me in this post is the way that you let yourself begin – before you were certain. You let yourself be led by the heart and out of that, your authenticity unfolded. There’s a strong lesson in that for all of us.

    It echoes that famous Goethe quote, that I used to keep taped to the inside of my notebook, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and Creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment that one definitely commits ones self then Providence moves too.”

    Thanks for reminding me, by your example, to retype – and retape – that quote.

    • @Brandon101
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Amy. The Goethe quote is perfect – I'm really glad you shared it here.

      I would be lying if I said that everything is all roses, all the time, but more importantly, the journey is underway. I have no doubt that the decision to embark unleashed a whole host of opportunities that would have remained stifled had I not gone for it all the way. I'm definitely never looking back!

      Thanks again. I'm so glad you've been there to watch this unfold.
      My recent post Grateful for Connection

Leave a Comment