Transparency, Authenticity and Accountability

Thanks to the lovely and gracious Lori Gosselin over at Life, for instance for hosting me last Friday on the porch for her “Life as a Blogger” series. Every week, she features a guest post with a one word descriptive that represents their approach to blogging. I was fortunate to write “The Authentic Life of a Blogger” and very much enjoyed the discussion that followed.

With each comment the readers left, my own perspective of living an authentic life was expanded so I wanted to share some of the highlights of the experience with you!

What is the difference between transparency and authenticity?

According to moi, “Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.” To me, transparency is the willingness to let others see in, to see you. It ought to be the absence of walls or even of a facade. Yet, I wonder if it’s possible to be transparent without being authentic?

I understand there is a difference between authentic and transparent, and sometimes under the guise of transparency, people share “truth” which is really veiled criticism.  I feel authentic is genuine and transparency is a depth to that genuineness.  Joy Hollin, Facets of Joy

I’m inclined to agree with Joy on this one. At times my initial response may not be an accurate reflection of my most authentic self, and yet it is available in that very moment. “It’s much easier to spout off on any topic under the guise of ‘keeping it real’ than it is to dig a little bit deeper to access perspective from your inner wisdom.” I tend to pause and consider if my reaction is representative, or if it is reactive.

Carole Remy expressed this process with her comment, “We may think our first response is our most authentic, but perhaps what pops up first is conditioning, and what we realize later, pondering, is our true voice.”

And then there’s accountability…

In my quest to be both authentic and transparent, through reactions and responses, moments of pondering and clarity – I am accountable for my life, as are you.

So, who really knows if you are presenting your authentic self transparently? 

Yvonne Root shared an analogy that has brought me a sense of measurable accountability (if only in theory, as I continue to think about its application):

…when a glass is full and it is bumped what splashes out is what it is full of. Knowing that I will be bumped many times in life, it is important to me to try to keep the “glass” that is me filled with kindness, thoughtfulness, eagerness, joy, cheerfulness and so on.

Seems to me, it is when life bumps into us that we and others learn what has been inside the “glass.”

  • What splashes out of your glass when you get bumped?
  • Are you able to maintain your center?
  • Is your reaction representative of who you really are or does conditioning play a role?

I look forward to a discussion on authenticity, transparency and accountability! Share your thoughts below.  

With mucho a latte of love and respect,

Janet Louise Stephenson signature
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13 Responses

  1. Oscar Gonzalez
    | Reply

    I like your new blog design. very clean and good looking. I think transparency is about showing how you do something, while authenticity is how truthful you are towards what your’e saying. That’s my $0.02

    • You were up early/late, Oscar! If “authenticity is how truthful you are towards what you’re saying”, then what is Integrity? ;)

  2. Love the new design yes! I think there is too much thinking going on, LOL Just be yourself, and the rest will shine though :) x

  3. nikkifrankhamilton
    | Reply

    This is exactly what I am searching for in my life…holding on to the past…like a bad habit…makes it impossible for me to answer without a conditioned response…trying to get a grasp on the past…tell it…and let it go…so I can be free. I could not put my finger on the words that I wanted to tie it all together..you just gave them to me…thank you for this gift!

    • Ahhh, thanks for stopping in, Nikki! It’s interesting when an analogy fits your life perfectly, isn’t it?

  4. marquita herald
    | Reply

    Lovely article Janet. I have to agree with Carole Remy’s quote – “We may think our first response is our most authentic, but perhaps what pops up first is conditioning, and what we realize later, pondering, is our true voice.” In truth I even question how many of us ever tap into who we are “authentically.” The fact that so few people really know, or are willing to admit, what they want out of life makes it difficult to be truly honest with ourselves. Every day we tell stories to ourselves about ourselves – some true, some not so much – it’s a wonder we ever work our way through all the layers.

    • Hi Marty, thanks for stopping by!

      “Every day we tell stories to ourselves about ourselves”… this reminds me of The Work by Byron Katie. And I so agree with you! I often express myself by saying, “the most authentic version of my self that I can muster in this moment”, knowing full well that I might encounter another layer and peel it back for a deeper version of authenticity.

  5. Sharon Roth
    | Reply

    Thank you, Janet. This is an issue I have long been in a query about. I have had many instances, unfortunately, when someone pushed a button and I spewed out something unkind. I think I was being authentic. I believe,”Hurt people hurt people.” I was coming from a place of a lack of self-confidence. Integrity, however is something different. The dictionary says integrity is firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic values, an unimpaired condition, the quality or state of being complete or undivided. Will I ever achieve that? I believe in that saying, “God’s not finished with me yet.” I have to affirm myself every day and work on becoming a better person. The dictionary says Authentic means true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character. I think my spirit is in need of some reflection about who I am and who I want to be. Thank you for letting me share.

    • I appreciate you sharing the definitions from the dictionary, Sharon. I didn’t look before I published because I was pushing myself to see what I currently believe. I view integrity as the moral compass that guides my life. I know what I believe, I know what feels right and true for me, and by following that compass, I am in my integrity. You ask if you will ever achieve that, and I know you were referring to the dictionary’s definition… how do you feel about integrity as a moral compass that you, yourself, create?

      To me Authentic, is very similar to integrity – they are definitely related. Authenticity, though, isn’t necessarily about my moral compass. It has more to do with the most genuine version of myself that I am willing to share in that moment.

      I’d love to hear more about your self reflections. You are welcome to share anytime, Sharon. xo

  6. [...] Transparency, Authenticity and Accountability (butterfly-maiden.com) [...]

  7. [...] The Authenticity  Gremlin can rear it’s ugly head if we feed it our doubt and allow it to grow.  We must certainly challenge ourselves to live our own message.  A pastor mired in adultery, a police officer addicted to drugs, or a teacher cheating on state testing are not areas of “just falling short”.  These are great failures of behavior.  Asking them to be perfect, though is impossible.  The last time I checked, the only sinless person to ever live was nailed to a cross 2000 years ago.  That’s not to say they can’t recover their authenticity. Trust may be challenged and even un recoverable.  Trust is earned and received while authenticity is lived and given away.  Those of us with a message to share (i’d argue that’s actually all of us) will certainly be held to a higher standard when it comes to our message.  You will be your own drill sergeant.  I read my own material because I learn from my own words. I am authentic as long as I share my imperfections.  Living fully with our passions, dreams, and needs/wants, is not easy.  If it was, I wouldn’t have a purpose to write.  You will hit bumps in the road on the way to “dreamville”.  Keep in mind these 3 things along the way to stay authentic: 1.  Has your message changed? The methods and tools may need to adapt and change, but the message should remain the same. 2.  Do you believe your message NEEDS to be heard or are you trying to SELL something? Intentions are important and dreams are seldom “get rich quick schemes”. 3.  Are others sharing similar messages?  Usually this is a good thing.  Sometimes being the first to share a message is great. but many times you’re the only one sharing it because it’s right (timing may also be a factor) If, after challenging yourself and your message, you discover its uniqueness is what makes it valuable, then by all means, share it with the world.  You’ve done the homework to quiet the Gremlins in your head and are ready to lead the charge.     You know your true authenticity.  Check in with yourself.  Utilize a system to evaluate your progress on a monthly or quarterly basis.  I like Getting things Done (GTD) or Seven Habits.  The point is to take a look at your map every once in a while to make sure true authenticity. Rocco De Leo You might also like: sistersunderthetrees.com/2013/06/30/live-authenti… http://www.butterfly-maiden.com/personal-development/transparency-authenticity-and-accountability/ [...]

  8. […] Being transparent means that we don’t hide these traumas anymore. We boldly face them, acknowledge them, process, and then let it all go. Transparency is a component of authenticity – where a commitment to integrity compels you to reveal your most protected aspects of your Self because you choose to be seen for exactly who you are. This takes courage! I’m recognizing how the ‘lack of transparency’ in my own life has caused me some unnecessary hiccups along the way. Sigh. At least I’m learning now, so that I can make mid-game adjustments. Fortunately, my greatest treasure in life has been the discovery that I can be seen and unconditionally loved for who I really am. All of this pondering has got me thinking about how to apply these new insights (and slight variations on an old theme) to my own circumstances. I am committing to making Transparency a priority in my own life – to be as crystal clear as I dare to be on a daily basis. I can’t promise I will be 100% capable of putting it all out there, and I don’t actually expect perfection from myself. . . just the awareness and a concerted effort is enough for me, as I’m building up my courage. What about You? Imagine how your life would transform if you began to value Transparency on a daily basis. Every relationship would shift, as would the persona you reveal to the public. And most importantly, I’m guessing, your own relationship with your Self would change. […]

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