Growing up in the seventies, there were four television channels, and programming was offered between 6:00 AM and 12:00 AM. That is correct. The television screen would be filled with static or colored bars during the late night hours. Think of that the next time you complain there is nothing to binge watch.
Soap operas and game shows dominated the air waves. This week, as I was contemplating a blog post about authenticity, one game show came to mind – To Tell the Truth. An updated version is currently running on ABC.
A panel of celebrities is presented with three contestants all claiming to be the same person. The panelists ask questions in an attempt to identify the two imposters. They get distracted by appearances, gestures, half-truths and their own biases. Don’t we all?
The feature I remember most about this show is the big reveal. The host says, “Will the real [name] please stand up?” As a kid, this moment was unremarkable as it signified the end of the charade. However, as an adult, this is a really deep question.
Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, defines authenticity as a means of “erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.”
If three people from your past stepped forward to share stories from your past, how many versions of you would exist? Which one would stand up today? How wide is your gap?
These aren’t just philosophical questions. The answers are critical for business. Eighty-six percent of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding which brands they like and support. Employees have a higher job satisfaction, engagement, and self-reported performance, when authenticity is allowed in the workplace.
Inspired by this game show, we’re going to begin examining the complete identities of people and companies. We’ll explore conflicting viewpoints and rapid conclusions. We will not cast judgments or issue proclamations. We simply want to spark discussion and encourage self-reflection. Life is pretty complex; so are we.
Our first subject will be Dr. Seuss. Today is his birthday. Stay tuned.