2018 Is the Year of Authenticity

2016 was the “Year of Stories.” 2017 was the “Year of Innovation.” And whereas these themes for 2016 and 2017 at Horizon Point were determined at the conclusion of both years, on January 7, 2018, I already determined that “2018 Is the Year of Authenticity.”


Well, because I didn’t spend much time in 2017 living authentically. I was too distracted. Too busy. And throughout the year of doing lots of leadership training, teambuilding, coaching, and just having lots of conversations with people, it seems as though I’m not the only one that struggles with living authentically.

2017, in large part, was the year I spent becoming something I swore I would never be. Our doctor friend talks about it often, when women in their mid-thirties (I turned 34 in December) come in to his office wanting a diagnosis of some kind for how they are feeling. They seem to have it all, but because of a conglomeration of things, they are wallowing in misery and want to find a place to place the blame. Where a pill can be prescribed to fix it all.

Although I never saw a doctor in 2017, looking for a diagnosis related to how I felt, and maybe I should have, (I did see several for a lump that turned out to just be “density”). I do believe for myself and for many women my age, the cause of this is a lack of authenticity.

The problem comes from a lack of being true to oneself amid trying to be everything to everyone else, accompanied by the feeling that none of the doing is noticed and/or appreciated.

2017 was a year of tension. One in which business was growing, my children blossoming, but stress was all around in balancing these two important parts of my life, which led to neglecting some others. I fought with the two people closest to me more than I ever have, began to wake up in the middle of the night not being able to turn my brain off (I’ve never had a problem sleeping) and I felt like everything I was doing was out of a sense of obligation, not enjoyment.

I knew something was wrong mid-year when all I wanted to do was escape (to where, I don’t know) and my husband told me, “One of the things I love most about you is your confidence. Where has it gone?” In seeking to help everyone else live with confidence, I had somehow lost my own.

So, I’m committed in 2018 to being authentic, and helping others lead with authenticity. To that end, here is what I believe leads to an authentic life:

  1. The Practice of Listening. First, listen to yourself so you can then listen better to others around you.  And listening requires quiet and stillness.
  2. Living in Gratitude. For out of a place of gratitude comes the ability to see all things for what they are.
  3. The Ability to Not Do Things Out of Obligation But Instead Out of Joy. This means saying no so you can say yes to what matters and what uniquely makes you you.
  4. The Ability to Be Vulnerable. You and I don’t have it all together, no one does. And out of the realization of this comes the ability to connect to others.
  5. The Ability to Not Compare Yourself to Others.   

I’m focusing on these points this year. I’ll talk next week about how I think they can best be cultivated and practiced and I hope you’ll join me in living some of these practices as we embark on authentic living in 2018.


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Real Leadership


Mary Ila Ward

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