The Authentic Self

The Ideal and the Real by @ArtsyShark

by Carolyn Edlund | Featured Contributor

The Authentic Self

Sharing an authentic message always makes a better connection.

The other day, I posted a guest article on my blog at Artsy Shark, written by a visual artist who is not a writer. He didn’t talk about his accomplishments or a great success that he’d achieved. He wrote about his experience using social media, telling a story of frustration and difficulties. The artist had worked extremely hard for years to create an online presence. He made mistakes, and he had doubts. Slowly he gained traction and some positive results for his efforts.

His article wasn’t dazzling; it was humble. Speaking in an authentic voice, he told the truth about the everyday experience of an entrepreneur trying to build the small business of his dreams. It’s tough, it’s a lot of work, and you don’t always get what you want. Still, you can make connections that lead to opportunities, and possibly sales.

He learned that all of his diligent work led to some beneficial relationships, and that forming relationships is how business is done. This is simply the truth for most of us, who labor long hours because we have such passion for our work that we show up every day to continue the journey.

The message he conveyed was that it’s not necessarily talent that leads to success, but quite often the people you know who can help you along the way. The response he received from this honest look was an outpouring of agreement and conversation from readers who understood his reality, because it was so much like their own. His story created emotional resonance with other artists, who gained confidence and inspiration from it.

It’s no wonder that we read news stories touting rising statistics of depression in people on Facebook from viewing the posts of everyone else who seemingly has a perfect life. They don’t. We can’t meet those standards, because they are ideal, not real.

A telling comment about this guest article showed up on Facebook, saying that only spammers would brag of phenomenal results through using social media. People can easily spot a disingenuous claim, simply because they are so common. We see them every day in advertising and we note them with suspicion. They echo the ideal that no one can reasonably expect to reach.

What I’ve found through years of publishing is that the most genuine and heartfelt stories, reflecting what readers know to be true, are always well-received. No one truly has it all figured out. All we can do is our best at any time, using the resources we have.

If you offer resources to your own clients to assist them with their business, health, relationships or anything else, your own authentic message will ring true as well. It takes a lot of hard work, and there are no shortcuts. They must be invested in their own results, because they care more than anyone else about them. The more “real” you are with others, the more authentic and trusting your relationships will be. And as the artist explained, it’s all about relationships.


Carolyn Graham EdlundCarolyn Graham Edlund founded a production ceramic studio in the early 1980’s and sold her work at retail and wholesale through stores and galleries for more than 20 years.  Subsequently, she represented art publishing companies to the trade as an outside rep. In 2009, she became an art blogger and founder of Artsy Shark, named on of the “Top Ten Art Blogs” by Art Business News. She is also the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, and speaks at art conferences and workshop events around the country.
She invites you to connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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