As a fan of the Olympics, I love the athlete profiles and stories about how they came to compete for the highest achievement in their sport. What I DON’T love are the typical interviews following their spectacular/disastrous performance; many athletes have a very practiced, generic way of expressing their feelings — “I just went out there and knew I could do the best run of my life.”

One athlete in particular broke the mold on this, though – American snowboarder, Chloe Kim.  Here are some recent examples of a quote from an interview and from her Twitter feed:

[On waiting for her gold medal run to start] “I think watching the contest [makes you] more nervous and more anxious because you’re just waiting there. It’s like when you’re supposed to be going to the theme park and your parents are taking forever to get ready and you’re just waiting there.”

[Tweeting from the top of the slope before her gold medal run] “Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I’m getting hangry.”

The authenticity she displays here is so relatable and real – we automatically “get it” (who else has been hangry after not finishing breakfast?)

What lesson can we take as leaders or change agents about how we show up for others? As Karl Moore writes in Forbes, “The authentic self is a goal for all four generations alive today: Seniors, Boomers, Xers, but most especially, Millennials.” Research backs this up and there’s no doubt about it  – the world craves this kind of authenticity.

Here are the 5 most important tips to #keepitreal:

  • Be vulnerable. Being vulnerable makes you relatable.
  • Understand that failure is ok. As you give people room to experiment and take risks, failure can and will happen.
  • Don’t try to have all the answers. Surround yourself with experts who know things you don’t.
  • Be open to learning. Actively challenge yourself to carve out time to learn something new every week – your teams know something that you don’t.
  • Practice active listening. Remember, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey

Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at or on Twitter @sbPResults.