Not everything you see on the Internet is real, so don’t fall into the trap of perpetuating a disingenuous life, personality, or lifestyle just for the sake of maintaining an image.

Today on SC, we’re pulling back the curtain and talking about getting REAL. Many, many bloggers and Instagrammers have found success by having (or at least looking like they have) a super glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle. A good example of this gone really, really wrong is Shaniqua Jordan. According to Levittown Now, famous blogger/Instagrammer Jordan was charged earlier this year with access device fraud, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, and forgery when she stole credit card information and racked up $37,000 in fraudulent charges. One of the items she purchased was an $18,000 Rolex watch. She was even held on $400,000 bail – all to keep up her Instagram game.

You can draw your own conclusions about Jordan, but that isn’t what this post is about. The moral of the story is this: make sure everything you do aligns with your values and principles.

“Vulnerability is a strength and characteristic that people value. Demonstrating your values, emotions, and sensitivities empowers others, as no one is impervious to having doubts.” – Howard Schultz

As you probably know, Annie (SC founder) is a HUGE fan of the book True North – and for good reason (example, example, example)! You may not immediately realize this, but as an influencer, you are also a leader, and it is critical that you develop your leadership skills. Values and principles should guide you as you develop into an authentic leader who inspires others around a common purpose. True North author Bill George explains the balance between values and principles:

Values: The relative importance of the things that matter in your life.

Principles: Leadership principles are values translated into action.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: why do we spend SO MUCH TIME talking about being “authentic” and “real” on SC? It’s simple: in order to be a successful blogger and influencer, you need to be YOU. Real you. Easy, right? Not so fast! With influence and leadership comes power, and it’s very important that you wield your authority responsibly. You don’t want to make others feel jealous or insecure. Images of beautiful dinner parties, perfectly toned abs, flawless skin, and designer clothing can be intimidating, and let’s be REAL, that isn’t how life is all the time! When bloggers and influencers only show the perfect aspects of their life, they’re creating a divide between themselves and their audience. Not to mention, it’s exhausting, and in some situations, it can make you do crazy things (like steal credit card info and go on a shopping spree)! Peel back the layers and be brave enough to show the REAL you. Your followers will be relieved.

“The greatest exercise for the human heart is to reach down and lift another up.”

So, how do you know when you’re doing it “right”? Think about it like this: every time you post on social media or your blog, you need to check yourself. We’ve compiled a checklist for you to use to hold yourself accountable to be the REAL you and make sure you’re always aligned with your values and principles!

Download Our Authenticity Checklist!

How do you stay authentic to yourself while blogging? Comment below!

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