I had an epiphany this past year, thanks to my friend Mike Paton (Visionary and Implementer extraordinaire at EOS Worldwide). Mike often talks about the importance of “being real.”

I was thinking about common words we use on a daily basis like “trust”, “attitude”, and “integrity” and how it’s fascinating that when I stand in front of an audience of 200 people and ask them to define such words, I can get up to 200 different definitions.

Because of this variation in the definition of words that are often incorporated into company’s core values, I strongly encourage my clients to put more than just one word into a core value statement. For example, “integrity” is consistency between what we think, say, and do, and it is only measured by others on what we do. So, “walk your talk,” “do what you say,” or “be the example” provides clarity by instantly placing a clear picture in my mind of what integrity looks like in a particular environment, as opposed to just stating one word which is subject to each person’s interpretation.

Here’s where “being real” comes in. As part of the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) implementation process, once we have worked with a management team for one year, we orchestrate a team building exercise. We ask the team members to rate their team based on their overall level of “trust” with each other on a scale of 1 to 10. In teeing this up, we explain what a team with high trust, and a team with low trust, looks like. This is critical to the exercise, in line with the reasons for explaining what core values look like. If we aren’t measuring the same thing, our results are not useful.   

So, what does trust look like?

I have found that when I ask people to score me, on a scale of 1 to 10, on their perception of me “being real”, for some reason, they find it very easy to give me a number.

To be real is an incredibly significant trait, because we can’t be real if we aren’t “authentic,” and we can’t be authentic unless we are “transparent,” and we can’t be transparent unless we are willing and able to be “vulnerable,” and being vulnerable is impossible unless we are “self-aware.”

The 4 Step Journey to Being Real:

1. Self-awareness: This is the foundation, the center post, the “mainstay” of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness is where the journey of “being real” or enlightenment all starts. It involves monitoring our inner worlds, thoughts, emotions and beliefs that factor into our perception of reality.

2. Vulnerability: Think about it; we can’t be vulnerable if we keep our fears, weaknesses, embarrassing moments, and our shame hidden in the depths of our subconscious. Various therapies can help us to gain awareness of those files and understand how they are impacting our perception of reality. This practice of mindfulness will take us from denial (conflict between knowledge and belief) – for example, I know I am not able to manage my anger, but I don’t want to believe it – to a state where we can observe ourselves and how our perceptions are impacting our behaviors and affecting others.

“Unless we are aware and acknowledge our fears and weaknesses, the true power within us will never be realized.”

3. Transparency: We need to be able to “see” what a person is all about in order to perceive them as “real,” and the more we can see, the more transparency exists.

4. Authenticity: To be authentic means that what we are showing others in being transparent is not made up. It means we aren’t acting out a role, we are the role. What others see is true to who we are.  

Authenticity is explaining and showing others how we feel. Politics is editing our own behavior and words for a certain reaction; explaining and showing people what we “think” they need to see or hear in order to progress our own self-interested objectives. Perhaps that’s why most of us don’t consider politicians to be “real.”

So, here is my epiphany. When you ask your partner, children, friends, business associates or team members to score you out of 10 on “being real,” the number provided represents their level of trust in you. You can challenge this all you want, but establishing trust is determined by your ability to be “real.”

Just be real.

Watch our short whiteboard video demonstrating this concept:

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