Two weeks ago, I attended a Saturday night wedding in Rye, New York. The location was spectacular. The bride and the wedding party were stunning! It was truly a lovely event. It would have been easy to get caught up in the celebration except for one thing. I was so uncomfortable in the strapless dress I was wearing, that I literally felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

Has that ever happened to you?

I think we instinctively know what feels right and authentic; what fits and what doesn’t. In this case, I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t be myself that evening.

On the flip side, when we are connected to our authenticity, to who we really are, we truly experience not only joy, but personal power. It’s like being plugged in to an energy source that can never run out of juice.

Authenticity is about connecting to the real you. I don’t pretend that this is an easy task. From our childhood forward, we constantly receive mixed messages from our family, teachers, and friends about their expectations for us and what we they think we should do. As we strive to meet others’ expectations for us, we lose sight of who we really are and where we belong.

The insecurities we have can further complicate the issue for they cause us to focus more on others than ourselves. We think more about what we are NOT, than who we are and what we bring to the table. Have you ever wished you were thinner, or smarter, or more successful? When we do this we lose our authenticity and power.

In her new book, Take the Lead, author Betsy Meyers says, “Leadership is a function first and foremost of self-knowledge and honest self-reflection.” She believes that one of the most important aspects of good leadership is authenticity.

Authenticity simply means finding “the real me” within ourselves and being comfortable in our own skin. When you step into who you truly are, you access a source of inexhaustible power. People see you as real, and that causes them to feel a level of trust and confidence that no amount of spin or PR can possibly manufacture.

This connection to authenticity is an important factor in our success. Authentic people show up as genuine and elicit trust. Like them or not, we know where they stand and we trust them. There is no hidden agenda.When we show up as who we really are, we attract clients. People trust us and instinctively know w e are genuine. When we are connected to our value, it becomes much easier to market ourselves in the workplace to advance our careers or grow our business.

Taking the time to discover who we are can take some time and effort. Once we take this journey of self-reflection, however, we will not only be much more comfortable in our skin, but will reap the benefits in long term success and happiness.