AUTHENTICITY? Why the Usual Success Story = Fraud
The authenticity movement is growing a new dogma that tells us to behave, to fit in and to practice integrity at all costs. Much of the dialogue doesn’t make room for us to do anything new.
I support truthfulness and authenticity. But this growing ideology is also becoming an obstacle for many people to step outside the norm, to take risks and to factor in a period of time where they might just be viewed as a fraud. Much of what we view in our culture as institutions began with “fraudulent” behavior.
There never would have been a Wizard of Oz without a fraud behind the curtain.
I cannot count the times I have observed one of our participants realize what they were born to do versus what they were told to do. There is a moment where he or she invariably points out they have no credentials to pursue the right path.
I often suggest there will be a fraudulent period indeed and that a good dose of chutzpah or hubris might be in order.
Chutzpah: Shameless audacity; impudence. Origin late 19th century: Yiddish
Hubris: Excessive pride or self-confidence. Origin Excessive pride toward or in defiance of the gods.
In the Authenticity Movement, characteristics like this are demonized and greeted with contempt.
A few years ago, I wrote a story about Arielle Ford that generated an enormous amount of righteous anger.
As a literary agent, Arielle helped orchestrate the “spiritual blockbuster” with leading spiritual voices such as Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and many others. In the last few years, Arielle has become a bestselling author with messages of how to find one’s soul mate. Her beloved sister Debbie Ford was one of our country’s most singular spiritual voices.
The two girls were raised by a mother who instilled within them they could do whatever they wanted and do it successfully. She also suggested that being women at that point in time might require taking certain liberties to get within the circle of success.
Arielle graduated from college wanting to become a successful photojournalist. She found an ad in the Miami Herald for that very position. She borrowed a camera and portfolio from a friend, took the interview and got the job. Consequently, she became a very successful photojournalist.
Within hours of the article’s publication, I was getting angry e-mails. Arielle and I talked about the reaction and she felt many people were missing the point. In the 70’s, most women didn’t get jobs like that. In her heart, she knew she would do whatever ever it took to more than live up to the job and she did. Apparently, Arielle had learned to trust that inner conviction more than the outer game of getting a job.
When I launched Inspired Work I sublet space in Century City and met with our first clients at night.
One of our first clients walked in the door. I asked what he wanted to accomplish and he responded,
“I am dying from AIDs. Someone told me that you would be able to help me get the most out of whatever time I have left. Can you help me?”
I was not a therapist. I was not credentialed. But, the instantaneous response was “Yes.” I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I made a commitment in that one-second to do whatever it would take.
I learned more from that client in how to live up to life than I ever imagined. Without him, we possibly would not have over 40,000 graduates today.
The point of this narrative is that within all of us is a solution to a problem we were born to solve.
In fact, if you are not doing that right now, part of you is suffering.
In the face of God there is a greater fraud taking place when we are not living up to our unique purpose and our unique gift.
The way our society is rigged is to usually respond to our stepping into our true path with one message that is some form of, “You are crazy.”
Authenticity, while I fully support its role in building more credibility and integrity in the workplace can become the new excuse to play it safe, to not try something new and to sabotage important growth.
Our country was built on selling new dreams.
I am grateful to the people who remind me of that because in the moment that I believe it, I get to help one man find fulfillment in the last days of his life. I get to watch others step into unexpected lives. I get to become a speaker. I get to write a bestseller.
If it is worth the discomfort, I will always embrace being a bit of a fraud to get there.
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