Merriam-Webster this week announced that the 2023 word of the year is “authentic.” The term has multiple meanings, including “not false or imitation,” a synonym of real and actual, and the one that’s clearest to me: “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”
According to Merriam-Webster, authenticity has been “a high-volume lookup” most years, meaning people searched for the word and its meaning and saw a substantial increase in 2023.
The word’s placement at the top of the list shows it’s a term people are thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever. It’s fitting given all of this year’s stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.
I’m thrilled to hear it. Authentic is also a word with significant meaning to me, so much so that it’s one of the key, underlying principles in my book, “Rigging the Game: How to Achieve Financial Certainty, Navigate Risk and Make Money on Your Own Terms.”
Closer Over More = Authenticity
In the book, I talk about a concept I call Closer Over More. At its simplest, Closer Over More essentially means every action we take needs to get us closer to what actually matters to us. My belief in this principle is so strong that I’ve deemed it the first commandment of my whole Rigging the Game philosophy.
It’s so easy in today’s world to strive for more—more clients, more locations, more products. But when is having more not enough? When it isn’t bringing you closer to anything that matters—anything that’s authentic—to you. If “more” isn’t getting you what you want, it’s time to take a new approach.
This concept is closely tied to authenticity because it encourages us to be true to ourselves and our values. In business, this can mean focusing on building meaningful relationships with customers and employees rather than just maximizing profits. In life, this can mean prioritizing experiences that align with our values rather than just accumulating possessions or achievements. By living with authenticity and applying the concept of Closer Over More, we can ultimately lead more fulfilling lives.
One Year of Authentically Rigging the Game
There’s a deeper explanation along with more examples of how to apply Closer Over More to business and life in Rigging the Game. The book published about a year ago, and as a sort of experiment, I’ve been tracking how I’ve been playing my own game over the past year by living the principles outlined within it.
I’m happy to report that looking back on this past year, I’ve done a decent job aligning my decisions with the ethos of the book and concepts I teach. (Thank goodness.)
For example, I continue to be selective about speaking opportunities. I’ve politely declined those that mean sacrificing valuable time with my family, recognizing that for me, authentic success extends beyond professional achievements. At the same time, I’ve accepted those opportunities and forums that align with my philosophy, or those that reach audiences for whom I think my philosophy and work can make an impact. I aim for impact over ubiquity.
Additionally, I had to make some tough business decisions this past year. Those decisions became a testament to the application of the Asymmetry to the Upside principle. The tough choices were necessary to align with my long-term vision, and as a result, rejecting alternatives that veered away from authenticity.
Even the creation of this site is an example. It was a deliberate departure from the traditional media tactics that often emphasize the pursuit of quantity over quality and other vanity metrics. I sought a platform that could bring me and other voices I respect closer to quality content that was actually helpful and empowering, so I built Certainty News.
I’ll humbly add that living in line with my authentic values has worked for me. The results have been tangible—the momentum of the past year marked by book sales, Rigging the Game getting published in other countries and generating hundreds of 5-star reviews. The keynote invitations I’ve received have been meaningful, my accounting firm has won national awards, and I’m having a blast watching Certainty News grow.
In essence, these examples epitomize the application of Closer Over More. Turning down opportunities and making tough decisions wasn’t about doing less; it was about redirecting energy toward the things I truly want to do and my own definition of certainty.
Since the release of my book about a year ago, I’ve been reflecting on the concept of authenticity. For me, authenticity is more than just a buzzword; it’s a guiding principle that helps me navigate the complexities of business and life.
I believe that success isn’t measured by the quantity of our endeavors but by the authenticity of each pursuit. Rigging the Game laid the groundwork for this perspective, and now, with the Word of the Year echoing its sentiment, the call to live authentically is louder than ever.
This article was originally published on Certainty News