by Jo Hutchinson

Shakespeare said “To thy own self be true.”  I was reunited with this saying last week while doing some background research work for a workshop that I was facilitating on the theme of Authentic Leadership.

It got me thinking about what it means to live life authentically and to be true to you.  Of course, there are many definitions as to what authentic signifies and I’m a big fan of you defining it your way so that it has meaning for you, rather than adopting someone else’s definition.

There are of course elements, components or principles that are universal or what I call foundational building blocks.  So I thought I’d share with you a few of mine.

For me, it starts with knowing who you are – in other words, diving in and being self-aware of your strengths, weaknesses, limitations, beliefs and passions.  If there was a picture that represented you whole and complete, what would it look like?

The next idea is centred on what do you stand for?  These are your core values that you use to guide you to make decisions and take action.  Your values represent what’s important to you and show you how you choose to use your time, energy and resources.  Getting clear on what you stand for is very life affirming, building confidence, courage and conviction.

The third core item is focused on purpose – they big ‘Why’ are you here; how you with your unique talents, skills and abilities contribute to the world at large.  There is no-one who is as you, as our life’s experiences and beliefs are uniquely packaged to give us a different lens on life.  To live with purpose creates meaning and an inner sense of fulfillment.

When we have a strong sense of self, we know who we are, where we are going and why.  We are less concerned with the opinions of others, of being judged and of needing reassurance.  We simply trust in ourselves that we can and will handle whatever comes our way.  Even if we make what is deemed a mistake, we see that mistakes fuel self-awareness, learning and growth.

Mistakes themselves are neutral – it’s just the emotion or belief that we attach to them that can make them limiting or expansive.  Thus having a growth mind-set is another characteristic that enables us to learn, grow and evolve to our next highest expression.

The old saying ‘fake it till you make it’ doesn’t cut it for being authentic.  Simply put, we see through people who say one thing and act differently – unfortunately it destroys trust and trust is an outcome of being authentic.

I know about now you’ll be thinking something like ‘sometimes it’s hard to be true to who you are.’  And I agree.  It takes courage, conviction and heart to live from this place.  It’s a choice and a never ending journey.  The rewards however are huge.  On the other side of fear is love in all its expressions such as joy, peace of mind, laughter, lightness, meaning, inspiration, beauty, confidence, excitement, and curiosity to name a few.

As Shakespeare said: ‘To thy own self be true.’  Here’s a tip:

Define what it being authentic means to you, then find something that tangible represents it in form so for example, it could be a music track that you make your theme song, it could be an image or picture that encapsulates you being true to you, or it could be a physical item such as a piece of jewellery, a book, a stone or statue.  You get the idea – it’s what has personal meaning for you.

With love and joyful wishes,


Jo Hutchinson

Unleashing Potential

Great Spirit NZ Ltd – ‘it’s a way of being’

M. +64 27 414 4291 E.  W.

Jo Hutchinson is passionate about helping people ‘flourish’ as leaders in their life, work and business.  To flourish is to grow, evolve and prosper and she provides Coaching, Mentoring and Facilitation services to help people and businesses succeed. 

Upcoming Events

May – Celebrate Life and Inspire your Spirit with a day out on Waiheke with a 2 hour spectacular walking tour at a private sculpture park followed by lunch at a local vineyard.

June – Rejuvenate your Creative Spirit with a Rotorua Weekend Retreat to indulge in the healing thermal waters, walk an ancient volcanic trail as well as creating and carving your own piece of beautiful pounamu into a pendant to take home.