As a sometimes professional speaker, I play in the world of motivational speakers, gurus and industry experts.
A word that is regularly bandied about by this fraternity is authenticity.
You’ll hear it from the podium … “live an authentic life”, “set authentic goals”, “be authentic to yourself” and the like.
It is easy to say, “be authentic”. But being true to you is another story altogether.
I get the feeling that when people bandy about the word authentic it’s a case of Shakespeare’s “The lady doth protest too much.” It might just be that they’re trying to hide that they are fake.
Being true to who you are, your beliefs, your principles and your standards is a noble endeavor.
But sometimes, trying to live the authentic life can … well, be trying.
I often tell my audiences that we have digital holidays on weekends. No surfing the web and wasting time on social media.
I was brought back to earth with such a jolt at how inauthentic (heck, that’s too soft … let’s just call it what it is, fake) I really can be when my daughter caught me answering an email at the weekend on my smartphone.
“Daddy,” she said. “Daddy, you’re not present.” Yes, this is how they speak when they’re eight years old. Goodness help me when she’s a teenager.
She was right, of course. I wasn’t present, and worst of all, I broke my word to her and the standards we had set for our weekends.
This is just one incident that highlighted my feet of clay. Every time I say I will write and I don’t; every time I say I will be more respectful with those who serve me and I’m not; every time I say I will spend quality time with my family and I don’t and; every time I see something that’s just wrong and I say nothing … every time I do this, I erode my integrity and authenticity.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the human condition is such that it will be able to justify any action or inaction. So, I get by with rationalising.
We are born rationalising machines.
But when I hold that mirror up to who I really am I sometimes have to shut my eyes because what I see is not someone who is authentic, but someone who is fake.
So, being authentic can be extremely difficult and maybe it’s an impossible Grail Quest. But, I believe it is the only way to [strive to] live. Because the more authentic you become, and the more true you become to yourself, the more true your dealings will be with others.