In the book Unmarketing, Scott Stratten makes the simple but profound statement, “When you are your authentic self, you have no competition.”
I love this.
Scott is speaking primarily in the context of building relationships in business, but his statement is unavoidably true in every area of life.
A core dynamic of the Nice Guy Syndrome is inauthenticity. Nice Guys don’t believe it is okay to just be themselves. They believe they have to become what other people want them to be in order to liked, loved, and get laid.
Nice Guys are guided by the covert contract, “If I am good (and hide my flaws and mistakes), then everyone will like me and approve of me (and women will desire me).”
The need for external validation and approval from others prevents Nice Guys from being their true selves and actually blocks them from getting the love, sex, and happiness they desire.
The tools I present to recovering Nice Guys all come down to this - be authentic. Be a “what you see is what you get kind of guy.”
In a recent workshop I was talking about the process of being integrated and authentic when I accidently coined the word, “authentegrity.” It just popped out of my mouth.
Authentegrity. Cool word, isn’t it? It really sums it all up.
Your journey as a man is to walk the planet with authentegrity.
If you want to make a difference, if you want to live with passion, if you want to be happy, if you want experience the deepest love imaginable – live with authentegrity.
This doesn’t mean be perfect - far from it. It means to live with all of your flaws, mistakes, and human foibles on full display.
When I first heard Scott Stratten make the comment about being your authentic self, I thought of the issue that so many single men have when it comes to approaching women. Many of the men I work with believe that they are fundamentally flawed in some way and are convinced that as soon as women see this, they will reject them for someone better.
One thing I’ve learned about women from 30 years as a marriage therapist is that most aren’t looking for perfection in a man. They are longing for authenticity. Healthy women aren’t attracted to the man who presents well. Theyare turned on by the man who is himself and comfortable in his own skin.
Does that mean everyone will like you if you are yourself and live with authentegrity? No, of course not. They say Jesus was perfect, and he still got nailed to a cross. Being your authentic self won’t make everyone like you or make every woman desire you, but it will let YOU like you.
Everything flows from there.
In your job and career, you have no competition when you are your authentic self. Since no one else is you, no one else can offer what you offer. The first time I heard Scott make this statement, I saw how true it rang for my business.
The work I do has brought me into contact with thousands of men and women. I receive several emails a day from people telling me how my work has changed their lives.
I’m not a genius. I’m not the most spiritual guy. I don’t live a perfect life. But for most people, that isn’t what is most important.
I’m opinionated, and I can be a know-it-all. My girlfriend, mother, and children all tell me that I can be controlling (they love me anyway). I can be judgmental and critical, especially when I am stressed. I have an ego, and I like to be well-thought of.
These traits are me. I don’t have to eliminate them or hide them. I just have to be conscious of them, own them, smile at them, take responsibility for them, and make amends for them from time to time.
This is authentegrity.
The most consistent feedback I receive from men as to why they like working with me, is that I am authentic. I can’t think of a greater compliment.
Men like knowing that I’ve made the same mistakes they have, that I struggle with the same issues they do, and that I can be real and transparent about the process of recovery from the Nice Guy Syndrome.
I’ve learned that being authentic gives others the courage to be their authentic selves.
In No More Mr. Nice Guy, I make reference to Nice Guys being “Teflon men.” They believe that if they appear perfect, people will like them. Ironically, perfection (or the appearance of it), makes it difficult for people to connect with you.
People are attracted to people’s rough edges. When you keep all of your flaws, warts, and imperfections hidden, people have nothing to connect with.
Here are a few suggestions for becoming your authentic self.
Find safe people to reveal yourself to. This helps you release shame – the belief that you are fundamentally defective and therefore fundamentally unlovable. As you reveal yourself to safe people, you realize that people can see your character flaws, mistakes, and dark side, and still like you.
I didn’t become authentic overnight. I was a poster child for the Nice Guy Syndrome. I thought I was honest, but you couldn’t trust me as far as you could throw me.
But doing the hard work of revealing myself to therapists, in 12 step groups, in men’s groups, with friends, family, and clients, I learned that I could be me and still be loved. Due to this work, there isn’t anything about me that at least one person on this planet doesn’t know about. That’s liberating!
Practice telling the truth – the whole truth. Every time the little voice in your head says, “Tell it this way” - tell it the whole way instead. Don’t hide, shade, divert, or make excuses.
Give people the chance to like you just the way you are. They’ll never have that chance if you don’t let them see who you really are.
Don’t hang out with people who don’t like you just the way you are. I went through a period of not talking to my parents for 15 years. I divorced a woman who couldn’t stop criticizing me. My life is now full of people who like me just the way I am. That’s been a conscious process.
Always do what feels right to you, no matter what the consequences.That’s my definition of integrity.
Become the non-judgmental observer of self. Observe your ego, your need for validation, your character flaws, your dark side, and your bad habits. Smile at them and own them.
Keep working on yourself. Not so people will like you, but so you will keep growing as a human.
Do what makes you happy. Pursue your passions. Play like a child.
Live your life by the mantra, “Nothing hidden and nothing half-assed.”
You won’t go wrong, and you’ll have no competition.