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There is an authentic self—an ideal you—inside you waiting to be revealed and those who are close to you and who care about you are well placed to help you realise it. Therefore the exploration of the ideal you is not a solitary act or wholly within your own control. Environmental and interpersonal forces help with the sculpting process. Parents, friends, teachers, and colleagues all play a part. Role models are also a vibrant source of aspirational fuel. But few sculptors are likely to exert as powerful an influence on you as those of your close partners in life – and you can do the same for them. 

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

The way of authenticity is grounded in the natural tendencies of human nature which we all share. These are the essence of the human person. They make us what we are, and in the appropriate quantity contribute to our wellbeing and happiness. There are 15 of them in 5 general categories. Each of us is formed by a unique union of these elements. No two humans have exactly the same combination of ingredients in exactly the same quantities.
The mixing of the compound takes place in your mind. All of these ingredients are psychological not physical features. They exist for the most part outside your conscious awareness and if you become aware of them at all it is in the form of a powerful longing or the feeling that something is missing.
They give purpose and direction to your behavior, motivate you to take action, and to pursue certain types of goals and avoid others. They are:

Category A - Basic Ingredients
1. Nurturance: To be cared for and to care for others. To be nourished in a caring way by our parents and/or primary carers is vital in childhood and a key indicator of our later development. As adults our children and the needs of others awaken our concern and interest and a desire to provide care and nurture for them.

2. Safety and Security: Personal safety is a deeply rooted instinct going back to when our ancient ancestors were in constant fear of attack from predators. Without safety life is threatened. Security is partly to do with this but nowadays it is also to do with emotional and financial stability--having sufficient to meet our needs.

3. Health: Good physical and mental health is a necessary prerequisite for all of the ingredients. Some people do of course survive and prosper in poor health with little prospect of attaining good health. But it is not the optimum state. To thrive and grow good health is important. This is an ingredient which is not entirely subjective. Others can discern the state of our health and there are accepted and useful universal guidelines for the maintenance of good health.

4. Play: This is the ingredient most evident in children—activity guided by imagination rather than by rules. Play is the part of us that seeks pleasure and enjoyment. It can be organised in the form of games or sporting activities or hobbies. But it also includes laughter, having a good time, relaxing, and light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement.

Category B - Relational Ingredients
5. Affection: To love and be loved (sexually and non-sexually) by others is utterly fundamental to human existence. It includes the desire to be liked, to please other people, and meet the expectations of others. And it goes all the way to the deepest feelings of desire, attraction, passion, regard and affection for that special person whom we love and who loves us in equal measure.

6. Acceptance: We like to be liked. The respect and recognition of others is important to our wellbeing. It is good to be to be accepted and valued by others. Equally self-acceptance is essential to our maturity.

7. Affiliation: Active engagement with others is essential to acceptance but it is also intrinsic to our nature. To feel a sense of belonging, whether from our family, social group, colleagues, culture, religious group, professional organization, sports team, online community, or whatever other context is utterly central to human nature.

Category C - Developmental Ingredients
8. The thirst for Knowledge is a fundamental need of the human person that has persisted throughout time. It is intrinsic to our nature as essentially thinking animals. It is not enough for us to be and do but we also need to know—to understand why we are and why we act as we do.

9. Achievement orients us towards success, accomplishment, and overcoming obstacles. It entails consistently setting and meeting challenging but realistic goals. It is influenced by both an internal drive for action and the expectations of others.

10. Individuation is the need to which most of this book is directed—an underlying and irresistible urge toward the fulfillment of our inherent and highest potential. Individuation is the vast power and potential inside every person waiting to be revealed and realized.

11. Transcendence: the need to seek experience and awareness beyond the normal or physical level. This is realized by some in excelling or surpassing or going beyond usual limits, and by others as the possibility of spiritual transcendence in the modern world.

Category D - Power and Autonomy
12. The exercise of Personal Power is a basic necessity of a fully-functioning life. At its best power is both the natural companion and clearest mark of leadership. It is indicated by high levels of self-confidence, positive self-assertion, self-awareness, self-direction, competence, articulateness, communication and persuasive skills.

13. Autonomy (or our need for independence) is synonymous with freedom and individuality. It involves the exercise of self-direction and self-reliance, free will and the capacity for independent thought and action. Autonomy also entails our thirst for information, the need to ask questions and gain knowledge through learning and experience, and engage in analytical thinking.

Category E - Wellbeing and Self-worth
14. The state of Wellbeing or happiness is characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. This is the most prevalent desire in Western culture. We are instinctively driven by the desire for happiness in the sense of moving towards pleasure and away from pain or sadness. We innately know that happiness is good for us.

15. Self-worth directly contributes to wellbeing and defines the level of confidence we have in our own worth or abilities. It reflects our overall evaluation or appraisal of our own ‘value’ as a person and is synonymous with self-esteem and self-respect.

All of these ingredients of human nature apply in varying degrees to each of us. How to respond to them is a feature in one way or another of the Seven Pillars of the Freedom Code.
Your authentic or aspirational identity is what you hope to make of your self, the type of person you want to become—the “ideal you.” It is a vision of the personality traits, values and patterns of behavior you wish to personify.
The ideal you is shaped and ultimately realized in the world but formed in your imagination. Your imagination is the ultimate source of your authentic nature. It is the expression of absolutely everything you wish to be.
The focus on what you aspire to be is more an activity rather than an end in itself. You are not trying to capture a pure, original or pristine identity that exists separately from the stream of your experience—that lies hidden waiting to be discovered.
The development of an aspirational identity in this context is what the philosopher Richard Moran has called ‘self-constitution.’ He believes that we are uniquely able to constitute ourselves. Therefore, you don’t search for your authentic self, it exists right here right now. You don’t discover your authentic self, you shape your authentic self in a way that gives meaning to the life you lead.
The philosopher George Herbert Palmer described the process by using the analogy of an elm tree. When the seed of an elm begins to sprout, it is adapted not merely to the next stage, but to every stage beyond that. The whole elm is already predicted in its genetic make-up when its seed is planted in the ground. For it to become an elm it must have a helpful environment, but still a certain plan of movement “elmwards” is already contained in the seed.
But what if the seed already knew the shape and size of elm it had the potential to become? Every time it sucked in moisture or basked in sunshine it would be gently adapting this nourishment to the fulfillment of its ultimate goal. It might be asking itself for example, whether the strength gained from the environment would be better sent to the left branch or the right.
Such an elm would be entirely different to its fellow elms in the forest. Because if it could envisage what it might look like as it grew to maturity it wouldn’t be an elm but a human person. Unlike the elm we are entrusted with our own growth. The basic plan is in our genes but the environment we inhabit and the choices we make ultimately decide what we become.
Your authentic or aspirational identity is what you hope to make of yourself, the type of person you want to become—the ideal you. It is a vision of the highest potential that you aspire to fulfil in your life—the true, free and authentic person you wish to become.

Most likely you are seeking freedom as a response to something missing in your life. You have gaps you need to fill. Maybe you feel your life is somewhat flawed or imperfect. You want more from life. This “more” varies from person to person. Particular needs seem to be linked to your stage in life or the“Lifetime” you are in right now.
Over the period of your life you have five Lifetimes:
Playing Time: 0-17 years (carefree, full of fun, life is mostly play).
Getting Time: 18-30 years (getting qualified, getting jobs, getting married).
Giving Time: 31-50 years (rearing kids, working, investing, striving).
Being Time: 51-70 years (thinking, taking stock, life-changing).
Taking Time: 71+ years (retiring, relaxing, reflecting).
I got the idea for the Getting Time from Michelle Phillips, a Hay House Radio host and author. As we move through these Lifetimes we come to way-points which challenge us. These are wake-up calls to find our own truths and start living authentically. Adaptive Freedom is helpful for people throughout all these stages.
In the later stages of the Playing Time and early part of the Getting Time young people examine what they would like to do with their lives, what they want from life and how they plan to go about it. But this is usually a secondary consideration at a time when carefree enjoyment of life is paramount.
In the later stages of the Getting Time people start questioning what life is all about. Their confidence in previous life choices may be wavering and issues linked to purpose and definitions of success and happiness become important as they experience challenges in relationships and marriage.
Much of the Giving Time is spent is service to others, especially in nurturing the young to help them create their own success in life. In the later stages of the Giving Time people may have a sense that in all the giving they have lost sight of their own life—that time is starting to run out and their earlier life-goals may remain unfulfilled. Their career, relationships and lifestyle may not match up to their original life-plan so they begin to either redouble their efforts or change course or perhaps do both.
The transition from the Giving Time to the Being Time is often described as the “midlife crisis”—a period of instability, anxiety and change. During this period people tend to review past choices and think about their final years. Awareness of death is usually a feature of this period as is a sense that despite accomplishment life seems to lack meaning.
For men this can often mean appraising their career in a new light and coming to terms with their past, facing reality perhaps for the first time and examining what wealth truly means. For women this can be a time of discovering their personal identity beyond the partner-wife-mother roles, and seeking self-reliance and independence.
The good news is that your circumstances, environment and conditioning have brought you to the place you are at right now, but the choices you make now can bring you to a new and better place. Experience changes the physical structure of the brain. And since you can chose the kinds of learning experiences you have, you actually have power to affect the structure of your own brain, and life, both for good and for ill. All that is necessary is to exercise that choice—to choose to live a free and authentic life.

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