You Can’t Fake It – Be Authentic

Business Analysis Training - Be Authentic

We all get that impression or vibe sometimes that just nags at us and says “is this person real?”  You can’t always put your finger on the exact reason you feel that way but it causes you to not trust that person.  Authentic should be just as important for works of art or salsa as it is for people.  People need to be authentic to themselves.  Being yourself and not being the mold that others expect you to be, creates trust and builds relationships because that nagging voice that says “is this person real?” just isn’t there.  Be yourself and others will relate to you better and you can build trust.  Building relationships and trust is key in being a Business Analyst.  

The authentic part of you is at your core.  It’s not defined by your job, function or role.  It’s not defined by where you live or the company you work for.  It is the skills, talents and experience that are uniquely yours.

Acting the Part
All the worlds a stage filled with bad actors.  I think Shakespeare most likely wanted to write that statement but it didn’t make it through the editors.  Everybody wants to fit in and this strong desire to be part of the group can cause us to become someone we are not.  So we create a mold in which to fit in and get along.  No one is every happy in the mold, it’s constraining and you over think every action you take and word you speak.  It’s comes across as being cookie cutter and instantly recognizable as the “Brown nose”, “Company man” or even a ladder climber.  We think that by acting the part we are building trust but acting doesn’t build trust.  No matter how much of an academy award winning actor you are, the fake always shines through.  Superficial is easier to spot that you think.  Don’t act like the Business Analyst – be the Business Analyst.

Know Thyself
Get to know yourself better – know your strengths and play towards them.  Know your weaknesses and avoid them.  Gee thanks for that sage advice Bob.   How do I figure out what my strengths are?   Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath is a great place to start.  Within the book are question you ask yourself that are used to help understand yourself better.  Based on in depth research over a decade, it is a good source to discover your strengths.  

Look at the times when you were the most productive and happy.  What were you doing?  Skiing down the side of a mountain, solving a puzzle, grilling that perfect steak, or making someone’s live easier.  Look back on those events and think about what made that event so important that made you feel happy and productive.  Was it problem solving, leading people, creatively designing something or taking action?  Understanding why you were so productive and happy in these moments unlocks that clues to your strengths.  

I love creatively solving problems by working in a passionate team.  Brain storming and getting new and innovative ideas out in the open is awesome.  It’s also about helping people.  Sharing my experience and having someone learn from it is exciting.  I love the light bulb moment when everything just falls into place and it all makes sense when chatting with other folks.  

Knowing your strengths helps you understand what you do best and what you aren’t as strong at.  This gives you a better understanding on when to do it yourself or ask for help.  Knowing the strengths of others help you understand when to reach out for assistance from others to fill your strength gaps.  From stakeholder management to requirements management, knowing your strengths as a Business Analyst contribute to the right decision of tackling it yourself or when to ask for help.

We’re all Quirky
Know your quirks and known their quirks.  Because of his food industry background by friend Paul will always feel compelled to make sure the forks are straight and even rearrange pens on a conference booth table even when it’s not ours!  It’s his quirk.  It’s okay to have a few quirky things about you.  I wear bright and colorful button down shirts.  Quirky is good because it makes you memorable to build stronger stakeholder relationships.  Many of the stakeholders that know my quirks are more open to sharing their quirks as well.  This builds a stronger relationship for project success.

Being More Authentic
Here’s a few thoughts on becoming more authentic.  

  1. Consistently use and grow your strengths.  
  2. Don't employ errors, fallacies or ambiguity.  Carefully look at the evidence, root cause and situation.  Avoid jumping to the conclusion or jumping on the bandwagon.
  3. Retain a healthy skepticism and avoid being overly critical or quick to point out small failures.
  4. We all make mistakes.  Own the mistake and learn from it.  Learning from your mistakes (big or small) is powerful.
  5. Don't make assumptions.  Readily acknowledge what you don't know and have the courage to ask questions.
  6. Assume the best intent of others.  
  7. Always do your best. Recognize you can't do it all. Play to your strengths first. Don’t’ be afraid to ask to help.
  8. Give yourself a break.  It's ok to goof off a bit and release stress and anxiety.   
  9. What else can you think of to be more authentic?
  10. Be the real you and your projects can move faster, lead stakeholders to better decisions and requirements management is more efficient and effective. 

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