Episode 86: The Importance of Inauthenticity with Mark Bowden

You Don’t Know How Amazing You Can Be. Stories You Tell May Be Limiting Your Growth and Success

Mark Bowden, Truthplane

Mark Bowden, Truthplane

Mark Bowden’s TEDxToronto in 2013 had a huge impact on how I think about authenticity. As I was laboring over my book, Your Stories Don’t Define You, I realized the influence that talk has had on me over the past 5 years in my work with coaching clients. When I encourage people to step out of their comfort zones to discover their hidden talents and joy, I often refer to Mark’s work.

As always, I asked my guest to share something about himself that most people don’t know, something we wouldn’t find in his bio or his LinkedIn profile, something he hasn’t written in one of his many books and articles, something that would connect our audience to him in a personal and intriguing way. He did not disappoint! Mark has been a traditional Morris Dancer for many years. I had to do a little digging into this because I was completely unfamiliar, and I’m so glad I did! Here’s an example from YouTube:

Our conversation centered on why Mark believes authenticity isn’t something everyone should strive for, necessarily. What I loved about this discussion was what seemed like a direct conflict with so much of what is being written and talked about in relation to that word: Authenticity.

As we explored Mark’s work, I realized it isn’t necessarily in conflict. For instance, though Kimberly Davis’ book, Brave Leadership, centers around the word authenticity, she states: “Your brave unfolds one situation at a time.” Mark and I spoke a little about that, but using the word authenticity instead of brave. “Your authenticity is discovered one situation at a time.”

Mark spoke about the two major dangers in trying to define authenticity or use it as a litmus test for personal behavior:

  1. Authenticity Shaming - This has become even more common, and a much bigger issue as we use authenticity as a buzzword across all aspects of life. How can we make a judgment about what is authentic for someone else? It’s like telling someone their feelings aren’t valid; we cannot know what is authentic for anyone but ourselves.

  2. Authenticity as an Excuse - How many times have you heard someone say they chose not to take a certain path because it didn’t “feel authentic?” The danger in focusing on a solid, foundational definition of personal authenticity is the limits that places on you in terms of growth and adaptability. If you decide one version of you is your authentic self, where does that leave you in terms of curiosity and stepping out of your comfort zone?

Mark got particularly excited when he spoke about his mentor, Robert Anton Wilson, philosopher, author, and playwright. He mentioned Orson Well’s movie, F is for Fake, and the Banksy film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, in the context of making judgments about what is fake vs. what is real, and the philosophy that when we see things as black and white we will experience the death of intelligence. The key to the concepts here is that oftentimes when you’re in the midst of transformation, you may not feel like your own authentic self. Building your Self takes time and curiosity, and sometimes it gets broken and rebuilt in the midst of major transformation. One of his early memories of exploring the concept of Self as a growing, changing, very personal experience is when he worked with Phillippe Gaulier, a brilliant and controversial figure in British theatre.

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Many quotes from the conversation are memorable, and I particularly appreciated our discussion of the depth of beauty and humanity in Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show. Here’s one I’ll hold onto forever.

Another one that struck me was this: “Coincidence, traced back far enough, becomes inevitability.” Found in a Hindu Temple near New Delhi, India.

Learn more about Mark Bowden, and visit the Truthplane website to contact him.

Expert Body Language Keynote Speaker Mark Bowden

Voted the #1 Body Language Professional in the world for two years running, Mark Bowden is passionate about giving your audience the most influential and persuasive communication techniques to stand out, win trust, and gain credibility every time they speak. Inspiring, energetic, engaging, and entirely entertaining, Mark’s memorable talks and training programs not only educate but have proven life-changing in helping people and organizations grow across all industries and sectors.

Mark’s work is consistently invaluable to sales and leadership teams, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and prime ministers of G7 powers. His highly acclaimed TEDx talk has reached millions of people, and he has presented to many of the biggest, coolest, and most innovative organizations in the world, including Shopify, Dell, Viacom, RBC, Fidelity, Amex, Unilever, Daimler, Microsoft, Toyota, VW, Samsung, KPMG, GSK, Walmart, Nestle, and even Real Madrid.