Authenticity Over Virtuosity

Day 283 Week 41 Q4 Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Virtuosity is about putting on a terrific show. Authenticity is about being real. There is room for both in the world of expression, but one of them wins out in terms of audience appreciation. If you are performing for yourself, play as many notes as quickly as you want to, but if you are performing for others, you might want to take a look at their faces to see how this is affecting them.

No, some of you are saying we are not performing we are just creating, being honest, and true to ourselves, and if you were authentically doing that,  then congratulations on your honesty. But if you are pandering and substituting gratuitous virtuosity for meaningful expression, the half-life of your career will be much shorter.

And what does expression have to do with being a creative outlier? Well, I guess it has to do with whether or not you would like to move from being a creative outlier to a sustainable innovator. The major difference is that sustainable innovators have their ideas adopted and their expressions accepted.

You might be thinking I am a professor delivering information, and why this talk about authenticity and virtuosity because I am not a performer; I am accurately delivering information.  Well, I hate to break the news to you, but if you are a professor, you are absolutely a performer. You are expressing yourself. Even if you think you are expressing the truth, you are expressing someone’s truth. It may be your truth, or it may be a truth that you read somewhere, but don’t be so sanctimonious us to believe that it is the truth.

All of us are performing a great deal of the time. Whether you are in sales or in research there are people watching you and evaluating you based on the way you communicate. You may tell yourself I do not need to be emotionally relevant I need to be factually accurate. To which I answer you need to be both.

Yes, it helps if you are a virtuoso, but not if it is at the expense of being authentic. And if you are authentic, and you are not a virtuoso, you will have a better life, less constrained by perfectionism, pandering, and hoping that everybody thinks you’re wonderful. The person who needs to think that you’re doing OK is you. If the world thinks you are doing OK and you do not, this does not make for a very good life. On the other hand, if you think you are doing great, and the world thinks that you are not, you also have a major problem.

With you, pursue balance or integration, the word choice is yours. But the act is not, you do have to balance between the outer and the inner, and if either one acts upon you in a manner that disregards the other, you will not be sustainable..