In approximately two-and-a-half months we’ll be inundated with messages on social media, billboards, and radio: “New Year, New You”.

There’ll be the euphoric rush to reinvent ourselves: do the obligatory annual goal-setting exercise, shed the kilos and centimetres you put on over the holidays, and sort out the debt your credit card magically absorbed in December (and will probably need to do until payday in January).

Why do we think we need to redefine and completely overhaul ourselves just once a year?

You have probably heard of various ‘lean’ ideologies by now: we have lean coffee meetups, lean startups, lean organisations – and all of this was sparked by the Japanese principle and philosophy of kaizen: continuous, small improvements with a ripple effect (remember seeing all those KonMari posts on Pinterest? They are based on the same principle and philosophy).

Sure, the ideology may seem simple (and it is), but its effects are profound, particularly if, and when, applied to self-actualisation.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to transform in the space of four to six weeks? Change is gradual, and we need to apply that perspective to our bodies, mindsets, and goals too.

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A key aspect of changing yourself, your habits, or your viewpoints, is authenticity

Without authenticity, you’re unlikely to sustain self-actualisation – which, put simply, translates into becoming the best version of yourself.

Whether you want to apply ‘hacks’ in terms of time saving, productivity, energy, sleep, management, or fitness or just be you in a world that constantly pulls you in various directions, kaizen definitely has a significant role to play.

When I founded my company this year, it was a result of many years of consideration and it’s a tangible manifestation of the lessons I learned in terms of being authentic. Those lessons came through my own experiences (good and bad), and from observing others.

For me, it just wasn’t worth starting a ‘traditional’ company: I wanted to do something different, and I wanted to bring on board people with shared vision and understanding – people who held the same values dear.

I was not, and am not, interested in micromanaging people. I wanted to create a collaboration, an orchestra, a community tank. My philosophy is simple: I trust you, and I’m prepared to learn alongside you and to share whatever knowledge I can. I’ve seen too many people and companies crushed by inauthentic, top-down approaches.

If I couldn’t be me, how could I expect other people to be themselves?

In my view, authenticity is both a central tenet and a moral touchstone. Any kind of actualisation is nigh impossible without it.

So how, when we are constantly encouraged to ‘hustle’ (which, by the way, actually refers to extracting money from people illicitly or forcefully), can we maintain our authenticity, and the closely-related concept of integrity?

It is sometimes easier to decide what you want when you recognise what you don’t

Let’s take a look at some examples of how inauthenticity, falseness, and dishonesty have an impact on relationships and perceptions:

1. You’re the owner and co-founder of an enterprise which purportedly addresses a much-needed socio-economic issue. You launch a social media campaign claiming that you support women, yet it’s a known fact that you frequent strip clubs (despite being married/in a relationship and the father of a daughter/s) and demean female colleagues.

Do you really expect people to believe you’re a philanthropic social entrepreneur? Sorry, it doesn’t matter how cleverly you dodge questions in radio or TV interviews – the truth will out.

2. You claim to be a published author, but merely printed and bound your unedited manuscript without having it go through any quality assurance processes. You then sold it to unsuspecting friends, colleagues, and family members.

Oh, so that’s what you mean when you say you’re a ‘hustler’ – you mean it!

3. You’re bored stiff at work (and with your life) so you spend hours trawling other people’s social media accounts filled with unhappiness and self-pity. Yawn.

If you’re that bored with you, imagine how other people feel when they have to engage and converse with you.

P.S. When you look at someone’s LinkedIn profile, even in ‘private’ mode, they can still see which organisation/institution you work for and can figure out who you are. Get a life so you don’t have to live vicariously and voyeuristically through ours.

4. You punt yourself as a successful entrepreneur, coach, public speaker, etc., but you shamelessly copy other companies’ advertisements and even their social media posts. Wow, you’re so busy replicating other people when do you find time to run your business? Maybe that’s the reason you’re doing poorly.

An impoverished mindset leads to an empty pocket – there, more free advice for you! You might also like to Google ‘plagiarism’ and its legal consequences.

5. You love handouts, and contact family members when you need a place to stay, connections to get you a visa, or want something in general. Stop using people – you’re as transparent as a jellyfish. Please prove us wrong by not being as brainless as one too.

It takes courage, kindness, and genuine warmth to actually mean it when you congratulate someone or reach out to them with good intentions

At the end of the day, the best gift you have is the fact that you are you

You may as well start liking (and being) yourself, because, as I have demonstrated above, people have a nose for dishonesty and falseness. They are not going to hire you, form partnerships with you, or have harmonious relationships with you if you are a phony, or a wannabe carbon copy.

You are creating your reality all the time. You’re constantly defining and outlining your boundaries, beliefs, and moral compass.

Next time you’re faced with the kind of people or scenarios I’ve mentioned, smile and realise that you should have compassion for them. Ignore the fakes, dodge the hustlers, and bear in mind that many people can’t be happy for you because they can’t even be happy for themselves.

Once you understand that and keep your nose to your own grindstone, the star you are will shine even more brightly.