Are You Living an Authentic or a Fake Life?

By: Ken Keis

"Even the fear of death is nothing compared to the fear of not having lived authentically and fully."
Frances Moore Lappe, O Magazine
May 2004

Are You Living an Authentic or a Fake Life?

Authentic: Worthy of acceptance or belief; based on fact not false or imitation; real: actual; true to one's own personality, spirit, or character.

Fake: To alter, manipulate, or treat so as to give a spuriously genuine appearance; counterfeit; concoct; pretend; a worthless imitation passed off as genuine; impostor; charlatan.

Are you REALLY living an authentic life?

Have you ever faked it to impress others or conformed to a group, just to please others?

Do you know individuals who are acting like people they are not?

How can you know the real person inside? The reality is, you canít!

If life is one charade after another, it becomes impossible to determine what is real and what is pretend.

One woman told a story of inviting couples from an "IN" group over to her home for a BBQ. Before she knew it,
- her menu went from hot dogs to steak;
- she went from leaving her home "as is," to cleaning it for 2 days;
- she was stressing over the look of her outdoor furniture, so she bought new stuff -- that she did not need and could not afford.

By the time the couples arrived, she resented the fact that this event was even happening and hated the entire evening. Yet she was the one who invited them in the first place. Can anyone relate?

We see this type of shallow behavior in Hollywood on a regular basis. Recently, several famous individuals revealed that living that way has consequences. They were not grounded and centered in who they are; they were fakes -- and their lives went out of control.

Living authentically has relevance for everyone.

Living authentically in your day-to-day activities will have you living on purpose with passion. If you are not, you are living in a counterfeit world that will become a worthless imitation.

Let me outline what I mean.

1. First, dump this thinking -- Fake it till you make it. Itís shallow and concocted. That doesnít mean you canít stretch, grow, develop, and improve yourself. It just means be real along the way.

2. To envision the future the way you want it to be requires acknowledging your current state.

When the woman in the story purchased furniture she could not afford, was she faking it or being an impostor? Why are there so many bankruptcies, especially in North America? People fake it right into a debt load they can not handle.

3. Stop pretending to be someone you are not. In high school, we called that peer pressure. Rather than being self-centered or self-absorbed, be honest with yourself and your preferences in life.

As a business consultant for close to 20 years, I am amazed at how many team members in a work situation will not be authentic in meetings or in their interactions with their co-workers. They outwardly pretend that everything is okay, but it is not.

Use your discretion. Donít whine about everything that doesnít meet your needs, but stop representing fake positions or thoughts. They donít benefit anyone -- especially you.

If you are not being authentic, you will feel some level of discomfort or you will become miserable. Thatís not being fair to yourself or others.

Itís possible you might not be able to change a problem situation, but you can at least be true to yourself. Donít underestimate how important that is to your well-being and passion.

4. Not being authentic is a cancer of your soul. Once you compromise your personal integrity, you erode your peace of mind and personal energy.

Have you ever met someone who was into pleasing everyone except himself? Even though he did not want to, he repeatedly said Yes, not No, to outside requests or demands. That is not living authentically.

I have encountered many such individuals and they are generally unhappy and even misrepresent their happiness level. There is nothing admirable about that type of behavior.

5. To fully enjoy and engage your life necessitates that you live authentically. Your ability to contribute increases in proportion to your level of authenticity!

It is impossible to be completely authentic unless you can clearly describe what that means to you in all the areas of your life.

Action Steps to Start Living an Authentic Life

1. Are you currently living your life authentically? How would people who know you respond to this question?
2. In what areas of your life do you need to be more real? List them now.
3. What has it cost you when you have not been real with yourself? Frustration, unhappiness, reduced personal energy . . . ?
4. What are some of the root causes of you not being authentic? Fears, insecurity, lack of confidence, avoiding rejection . . . other causes?
5. Fake it till you make it is a shallow, outdated concept. Be real, then move toward your goals and dreams and donít misrepresent yourself on the way. Donít be a fraud or an impostor.
6. You are not doing anyone a favor by allowing him or her to be a fake to you or others. The reality is that denying the truth only lets the situation fester and create a potentially more serious issue in the future.
7. Stop trying to be someone you are not.
8. Be clear about who you are and what your passions are. That way, you can truly live an authentic life.
9. Dump the cloak of impostor and charlatan for the joy of authentic living in every area of your life.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose,

Ken Keis

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Ken Keis, MBA, CPC, is an internationally known author, speaker, and consultant. He is President and CEO of CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc., Many professionals herald CRG as the Number One global resource center for Personal and Professional Development.

For information on CRG Resources, please visit

For information on Kenís Training and Speaking Programs, please visit

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