S:0716 Distinction: Authentic vs. Vulnerable

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


At first glance this might appear to be a strange Distinction since Distinctions are usually about two words (or phrases) which are typically used as synonyms. It is in pointing out the differences that the distinction is drawn. Authentic and vulnerable are probably not often used interchangeably. The key to this distinction is in behavior.

When you are vulnerable you feel at risk, unsafe, exposed, open to be hurt. To say that an actor gave a brilliant performance because he/she was “vulnerable to their emotions” may be fine for them, but most of us want no part of it! Does vulnerable feel good to you?

When you are authentic you may also “let it all hang out,” but there is no risk. Being authentic stems from self-awareness. Self-awareness leads to self-acceptance when you embrace your core values, own them, and don’t expect or require anyone else to share them or even agree with them. You are you. Period. There is no “I’m right, you’re wrong.” There is no need to proselytize and win over others to your way of thinking and being. An authentic person has a calm, strong, confident presence about them. They are comfortable with who they are.

The authentic person is open for being known, but they feel no fear, no vulnerability.

As the great philosopher Popeye said, “I yam what I yam. And that’s all that I yam.” Authentic.

Tell your truth, with compassion.


Coaching Point: What is one aspect of your authenticity of which you are aware and comfortable?


Copyright 2009 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.