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E. E. Cummings wrote, “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.” “Staying real” is one of the most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight.

Beneath all the zealous pursuits of your life—your desire for love, happiness, wealth, power, success and status lies a deep unfulfilled longing. Underlying the myriad hopes and dreams that consume you and may lie partially unsatisfied, there is a more fundamental and ultimately more rewarding search—the quest for your authentic nature. The psychologist Carl Rogers believed that at the root of all the problems people presented as the reason for seeking counselling was just one: a desperate need to become their real selves, to be allowed to drop the mask they presented to the world or felt the world demanded of them. 

To have a vision is essentially to know—deep down—why you are doing what you do. This is well illustrated in the story of the Italian stonecutters told by the psychotherapist Roberto Assagioli. A visitor to a stone quarry asked a stonecutter what he was doing. "Don't you see," he replied a little sourly, "I'm cutting stones," thus showing his dislike of what he regarded as unpleasant and valueless work.

The visitor passed on and put the same question to another stonecutter. "I'm earning a living for myself and my family," replied the workman in an even tempered way that reflected a certain satisfaction.
Further on, the visitor stopped by a third stonecutter and asked him: "And what are you doing?" This third stonecutter replied joyously: "I am building a Cathedral." He had grasped the big picture. This potentially tedious and demanding task was part of the great vision for a Cathedral. His efforts were as necessary as the architect's, and carried equal value.
Therefore, he was performing his work not only willingly, but with enthusiasm. If you keep your focus on the big picture—the long term vision—then the cares of today will take care of themselves.

Grow where you are planted! Staying in the real world is crucial to the process of creating the authentic life you desire. Michael Foley in The Age of Absurdity reminds us that our yearning for authenticity is not found only in novelty – a new place, a new lover, a new job. “More effective is to see the familiar with new eyes…to smash the crust of habit and see life anew.” Foley exhorts us to “begin a new job in your current post, enjoy a holiday where you actually live, and most thrillingly, plunge into a tumultuous affair with your own spouse.”

If you are stressed out, lacking direction, unable to discern any meaning and finding it hard even to focus on the possibility of an ‘authentic  you’ then start by establishing some stability—a stable self that you can rely upon. This may be as simple as setting up a daily routine and trying hard to stick to it. It may mean looking at your job and seeing if it is satisfying and making some plans to upskill or reskill so you at least have the chance to make a change. It might certainly mean being present with and for those you are close to, perhaps even live with. Seek help. Look for mentors, counsellors, pastors that can give you support, encouragement and reflect the real you that you are unable to be – just now.

One of the toughest places to remain authentic is at work. We often disappear behind our mask or don the role allocated to us. Yet so long as we are true to the core elements of our authentic nature: being honest, acting honorably, staying true to our core values, showing compassion then we can still carry out our role and be truly authentic. Life is never perfect. We find our authentic nature in the place we are at - not the dream-place beyond the horizon.

This Blog Post by Jennifer Colosimo the co-author with Stephen R. Covey of Great Work, Great Career highlights some practical ways that you can stay authentic in the working environment.


Women have a harder job than men in asserting their independence and being more authentic. This is especially so in non-Western and more traditional societies. This excerpt from an Indian woman writer Prya Florence Shah reflects the situation in her country - but there is a message here for every woman. The Curse of the Nice Girl

How hard is it to stay authentic – to be true to your dreams – when you move from High School to College? Where does the urge to change the world disappear to? Read this deep, human and engaging story from a young writer on how to stay authentic in a changing world... What happened to changing the world?


How young do you need to be to start living authentically? It sounds like a stupid question. Surely you should be living authentically all your life. Well that depends on whether you are allowed to or not. The case of the 16 year old Dutch girl Laura Dekker highlights this issue. Ever since she was a toddler she wanted to sail alone around the world. This was no pipe dream. Laura was born on a yacht during her parents seven year round the world voyage before their divorce. She was more comfortable on a boat than on dry land so her dream was grounded in practical reality.
When she was 13 she took her fathers yacht and sailed it single handed from Holland to England encountering bad weather but arriving safely. Her reward was to be arrested by the British police. When she announced that she would sail around the world on her own the Dutch authorities made her a ward of the State and forbade her to sail. Her mother was vehemently against the plan but her father, at first reluctant, eventually supported her. With the help of a friendly lawyer they beat the Dutch authorities and Laura completed her 518 day solo voyage sound the world (the youngest person ever at 16) when she landed at the Caribbean island of St Maarten in January 2012.
This remarkable story told in The Sunday Times highlights the courage and tenacity required in Being You – becoming and remaining truly authentic. Laura’s journey told with elegant simplicity on her blog is summed up in her own words: “I did it just for myself.”
Her experience neatly follows the structure of the 7 Pillars of the Freedom Code – the implementation path of Adaptive Freedom. Laura was acutely attentive and aware of her needs and what she wanted to achieve (1. Perceptive Awareness). This included conscious attention while on board. She wrote: “In tricky moments, such as stormy weather, I just focus on what needs to be done to control the situation, step by step.”
She was clearly aligned in mind and body with the elemental forces that contrived to bring her dream to reality (2. Alignment with Universal Energy). To fulfil your potential requires more than just dreaming: it must be backed up with concrete plans, detailed preparation and action (3. Pursue Purposive Action).
Though alone she remained in constant contact with her family, friends and supporters, and felt deeply connected to them despite the distance. She was also intimately connected with the sun, wind and sea and all the creatures around her – not to mention her closest companion, her boat ‘Guppy’ (4. Connect and Communicate).
Laura has a strong acceptance of her self, her life and her moment in that life. However, she has not so far been able to accept the way she was treated by Dutch officialdom though she has been reconciled again with her mother (5. Acceptance). To be a solo circumnavigator on a small yacht requires a ready willingness to adapt to change at every opportunity (6. Adaptability) and her blog is full of the delight she found in every day at sea—even doing her school work (7. Animation and Appreciation). She wrote “I look back with joy at the adventures of the past year.
Read Laura’s Blog

The novelist Edward Docx writes that we are moving into a new Age of Authenticism shaped by three core ideas: specificity, values and authenticity.

“This is evident in a growing desire for authenticity all around us. We can see it in the specificity of the local food movement or…we can hear it in the use of the word “legend” as applied to anyone who has actually achieved something in the real world. (The elevation of real life to myth!) We can recognise it in advertising campaigns such as for Jack Daniel’s, which ache to portray not rebellion but authenticity. We can identify it in the way brands are trying to hold on to, or take up, an interest in ethics, or in a particular ethos…Values are important once more: the values that the artist puts into the making of an object as well as the values that the consumer takes out of the object.”

The desire for a meaning to make sense of the complexity of modern living is an urgent one. Which is basically a need to become more authentic. This means validating our own values, acting honorably in upholding them and doing so through a life lived in tolerance and harmony within the community of people who share our earthly space.

Read his article in Prospect Magazine here Age of Authenticism

The call to authentic living is a challenging one because it essentially means to believe in yourself and you may find this too risky. It may be easier and safer to be like others—part of the crowd, or to be what others have consistently told you that you are, to conform to the “you” that gets the approval you crave.
To answer the call of authentic living is risky because it means stepping out, standing up, and saying no, when most of your life up to this point may have involved stepping aside, standing down, and saying yes even when your inner spirit wanted to do otherwise. You may have become conditioned to stay quiet rather than speak out through the harsh lessons life has taught you. Nothing ventured nothing lost! It may appear that the safest thing is not to venture beyond the comfort zone you have created for yourself.
We find it easy to deceive ourselves. Despite its obvious shortcomings we are good at convincing ourselves that our life is fine, that we are living to the limits of our potential and see no need for change. But perhaps we haven’t counted those little bits of passion, intensity of feeling or flights of fancy that we have lost along the way. We may be secure, settled, sincere, satisfied and that may amount to a sense of a fulfilled life (in which case it is authentic) or it may amount to a barely perceptible sense of loss, unease, anguish or anxiety (in which case it is a stagnant life).
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