By Katy Macek | Photo courtesy Amber Swenor
It’s one thing to find a job you’re good at, but it’s another to find a career that aligns with your values. When you can match those, Amber Swenor believes you’re being your best self.
Swenor calls this “radical authenticity,” and she believes it can help you lead a more fulfilling life. How to get there is the subject of her new book, “Unleashed: A Been-There, Rocked-That Guide to Radical Authenticity in Life and Business,” which was published in April 2022. That idea is also the foundation of her business, Soul Seed Strategy, and in her work as a business coach, speaker, trainer and transformation strategist.
As Swenor says in her book, authenticity is “the freedom to be exactly who you are and stand in your personal truth in any given moment regardless of conditioning you’ve experienced or outside expectations.” Doing so can lead not only to more career satisfaction, but a personal sense of fulfillment.
“The idea [is that] that personal happiness and how you show up in the world translates to greater success in business,” she says.
Below, she shares her tips to finding your radical, authentic self.
LEAN INTO YOUR VALUES
Discovering what you value most in your relationships and work life is key to understanding where to put your time and energy.
“The more that we know about ourselves, it helps us make better career matches,” Swenor says. “That doesn’t happen without self awareness.”
She believes in recognizing values based on behaviors — for example, what draws you to someone, what pulls you away from someone or what would you never be OK with?
That’s more than just saying, for example, “I value family.” Swenor says it’s important to define what that looks like in practice, which will allow you to see how your job, and even your personal life, fits into those values — or doesn’t.
Swenor says that thinking about six key areas (see sidebar, next page) will help you narrow this down.
ALIGN YOUR VALUES WITH YOUR ENERGY
Once you’ve defined your values using Swenor’s six steps, it’s time to start aligning those with your external circumstances.
It’s easy to get caught up wanting to be everywhere, try everything and get everything done. But that, Swenor says, is not possible. Using your values as guideposts can help you cut through the clutter to find what feels most authentic to you.
“We think it’s the things on our plates, but a lot of it is how we choose to move through it,” she says. “This has to come down to a conscious choice and awareness of the things that sometimes seem invisible.”
From work to personal life, filtering decisions through the values that support you in being your authentic self will lead to more satisfaction in where your time is spent.
“Either it brings you in alignment for those values or it doesn’t, and it makes it so much easier to direct your ‘yeses’ and ‘nos,’” she says.
STEP INTO YOUR “ZONE OF GENIUS”
Swenor calls that sweet spot where your passions and skills combine the “Zone of Genius.”
It’s a sweet spot because it involves finding what makes you happy, what you are good at doing and what makes you money — not an easy feat.
Swenor suggests writing down 1) your skills 2) what you love the most and 3) what you can get paid for.
“Make those three columns, and look for the thread of alignment,” she says.
A tool she uses in her coaching programs is a two-week Zone of Genius Time and Energy Study. Track all of your personal and business tasks and activities for two weeks, noting how much time goes into each task as well as how much energy you expend on it. Then, ask yourself what you look forward to, what you dread and where you notice your best flow and productivity.
These combined tools have allowed Swenor to find her Zone of Genius: Helping others discover their radical, authentic selves through her business, at speaking events and through her book. She truly believes becoming conscious of one’s inner values and energy can lead to more productive, satisfying carers and personal lives.
“Authenticity is not just a buzzword,” Swenor says. “It is a conscious choice, a way of being, that when embraced can lead to much more joy, freedom, impact and success.”
Those interested in learning more can find a free workbook on Swenor’s website, soul-seed.com.
AMBER SWENOR’S SIX STEPS TO DEFINE YOUR VALUES
- Identify your ideal behaviors. For example, “I desire to stand in my truth no matter what the situation.”
- Identify the ideal behaviors in the people around you: What draws you to someone? What doesn’t?
- Review your answers for steps 1 and 2. Make a list of words or phrases that come to mind.
- Write a list of what would never be OK for you or your friends, partners, colleagues or bosses to do. These are your “anti-values.”
- Identify opposite values from your “anti-values.” For example, if “lying to a client” was an anti-value, write “Honesty” as the opposite value.
- Reflect on what this exercise reveals about your top core values and personal truths. How can knowing this change your decision-making processes?