What Peeling Apples taught me about AuthenticityDec 06, 2019
When I was a little girl, maybe about four years old, my grandfather would sit me in one of his director chairs (you know the kind you see movie stars sit in when they are interviewed) and peel apples for me under our small orchard in our yard. I can remember revealing at his fantastic skill to peel an apple with a pocket knife so that none of the peel broke. It would land in the grass in a perfect spiral, and I stare at it until he handed me the first sliver of juicy apple and begin to tell me a story about his travels and adventures growing up.
My grandfather was from a generation you don’t hear about very often anymore, and now as a grown woman, wife and mother, I am in awe of being one of the few 30 somethings to have such a rich, deep sense of pride into what makes a person authentic because of him. He was born in 1913, part of the Interbellum Generation, which means he was born between the two great wars. At eight years old, his father died of fever, and his being one of 11 children his mother was forced to send all but the youngest two to an orphanage. He went on to enlist in the Army, serving at the Panama Canal, and then onto building his dreams of farming, marrying the girl of his dreams, having children, and traveling the world to impact those who needed the skills to be able to see the reality of their dreams for themselves. All of this, I learned, from sitting with him between the ages of 4 until he passed away when I was 10. All of these stories, shared with me while peeling apples taught me about the importance of believing you have skills that are needed in the world. His authenticity wasn’t in his deeds but in his belief that his determination would prove it to be something to be admired.
Lately, as the upcoming decade approaches, I have thought about the lessons I have learned (or relearned, let’s just be real) that I want to keep present as I step into this new decade as a woman, mother, wife and business owner. You might have heard of the term in the self-help/goal setting world of “A Year in Review” where you go back through your calendars, Facebook feeds, pictures, etc and make a little of all your are proud of, mistakes, and areas you succeeded so to be sure to have more of the good and less of the bad in the coming year? I think this is a great concept, and encourage you if you’ve never done it to give it a try. Reflection is always a beautiful and revealing opportunity. However, with the coming decade, I can’t help but feel we need to be looking for more, we need to be looking for our authenticity.
Now, I’m not talking about the authenticity of “Do I have enough of Instagram pictures in my grid without a filter?” type of authenticity. I’m talking about, “Did I really share with others the skills, stories, and time that I only have to give?” type of authenticity.
Here are the 4 Lessons I learned (and keep learning) over and over again from my grandfather’s authenticity:
Admiration that comes from true Authenticity isn’t about receiving a compliment.
My grandfather was admired by others in our community, those he worked with, our family and so many not because he was hoping for compliments, awards or praises, but because he respected and gave everyone his warm approval. (At least until you said you rooted for the Mets and then he’d question his interaction...lol) In the life of the woman, I train, who are running families and running businesses (I happily call them #BizMoms because their business is definitely part of the family.) you are surrounded by countless blasts of “BE AUTHENTIC”, then “Curate the Perfect Blog”, then “Get on YouTube and make sure your backdrop doesn’t have dirty laundry piled up!”, then “Just be yourself, that’s all people want!”, then “Did you use a filter on this selfie?” Let me just say, for the record, that I am tired of the BS of AUTHENTICITY online entrepreneurship divas of conferences & podcasts who are trying to tell some of the hardest working women on earth that their respectful and beautifully messy lives aren’t AUTHENTIC ENOUGH!
Authenticity comes from freely giving respect (even if it’s not returned) and always giving everyone your warm approval.
You Are the ONLY One with the Skill (at least to those who know you.)
My awe of how my grandfather peeled the apple for me so skillfully made me believe he was the only person in the world with that skill. In truth, he was the only person in MY world who had that skill, and it was that perception that made me admire it so much that I also wanted to learn it. It wasn’t long after I expressed my interested to learn that my grandfather was guiding me through how to use his pocket knife, and then me spending countless hours under those trees in our orchard even into teenagehood, long after he was gone, doing my best to master his skill. In the past five years since I entered this online space of social entrepreneurs, I have seen time and time again women being told to not focus on their skills but to somehow authentically be the “expert” in a perfectly branded, make sure you are noticeable, save-the-children kind commercial guilt trip. I firmly believe if my grandfather was to meet Angela Duckworth and she shared her concepts on grit, he would agree with her that grit is the skills you earn from your perseverance and passion, not a photoshoot depicting you have it.
To authentically serve others you need to cut the guilt trip and focus on publicly sharing your grit. When you do you’ll be the ONLY one who seems to have it, at least to the people who know you.
Storytelling isn’t a watered-down version of your Memoir.
My grandfather told me the best stories. I’m not just talking about the stories that most grandparents tell about walking uphill both ways to school in the snow. I’m talking about stories where the simple gesture of sharing coffee with a random guy in the local truck stop landed him a job and adventure to Greenland, or how he would never forget the feeling of a thrashing stick that was used on the back of his legs at the orphanage when he decided to take the whipping his little sister was to get because she stole some cream out the of the pantry. Stories that tell you a truth so raw you can envision yourself in them. I can remember the first business conference I went to when I left my corporate job to decide to work from home. I was with a company I was consulting for and this business conference was focused on social enterprises. (businesses that make an impact in the world) The entire conference talked about “storytelling” and how important it was to be authentic to their customers. Yet so little of their representatives for their brands had ever lived or experienced the stories they were telling. The key speaker that year was Chelsea Clinton. I don’t remember much about her talk about the book she was sharing or even the things she shared about helping her parents foundation, but what I do remember is a story she told about how breakfast was in her home growing up with two powerful parents. She told a story about how every morning her parents would read her an article out of the paper of something happening in the world, and instead of sharing their perspectives, they asked Chelsea what did she think about the situation. You could see on her face as she told the story how much that moment shaped the woman she is, how much she believed even a children’s voice should be heard. It wasn’t watered down. It wasn’t just marketing. It was real.
The best storytellers are those that tell the stories that are their own to tell. Authenticity in storytelling comes from it actually happening to you.
Since this post is literally becoming the first chapter of my book I want to leave you with this. If you should be participating in one of the shiny pieces of info-crack (even my own #10DaystoWHY challenge) before the start of this new decade. If it encourages you to reflect on and review what you’ve done in the past year or ten years, and you feel like you haven’t done enough or you weren’t authentic enough and that is why you haven’t made it big yet. I want you to take a lesson from my grandfather peeling me apples and telling me his stories.
People just want you to genuinely give them your time, to share with them the skills and stories that matter to you. When you do that, the spiral of authentic success will surely be something to admire. Your authenticity will peel back the truth for you and others to reach the reality of your dreams.
To learn more about Genavieve Rose & how she seeks to invest in women solopreneurs to believe in their truth & perseverance so that can inspire the reality of their dreams & create freedom in the world, check out her website! www.genavieverose.com or follow her on social media below.