Have you noticed all the inauthenticity in the world today? It ranges from food ingredients to clothes, jewelry, electronics, organizations, governments; and even, people. The competitive nature of the world has forced us to lose our essence and become someone else. Due to this we are starting to lose hope in our governments, organizations, family and friends. The media is filled with stories of scandals about organizations and leaders that we once believed were honest. Since the past 45 years people have become more depressed and the suicide rate has increased 60%. In the world; on average one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.
Many of us are starting to realize this, and by distancing ourselves; we are re-focusing our efforts inwards to re-align ourselves towards the truth. Authenticity does not mean that we are perfect; instead it means that we have recognized our imperfections, and striving to achieve a higher level of excellence. We understand that alone, we cannot change the system, but one-by-one if we transform ourselves, slowly but surely, the environment around us will change.
A government cannot exist without its citizens, and an organization cannot flourish without its members. Yet many leaders fail to understand this because they have become accustomed to expect the citizens or members to follow them, whether it is based on fear or power. Similarly, the citizens and members have become accustomed to blindly follow the leader without asking questions, even though they feel uncomfortable behaving in a certain manner that is expected of them. This is due to the fear of the leader as well as the community that is supporting the leader. We need a sense of belonging to feel secure, and to attain this security we sacrifice the potential of being our authentic selves.
It can often be observed that certain individuals choose to distant themselves from specific people or organizations. This is because they have witnessed so much injustice or lack of ethics, that instead of attempting to offer their help for improvement, they choose to refrain from interacting with those organizations or people. We only have a limited amount of will power to stand up against unfairness, especially if others who feel the same way do not support us.
Alternately, from the perspective of authentic leaders, it is difficult for them to decide how to behave because they are constantly being criticized or idolized. With thousands of opinions floating around, and having so many lives dependent on their decisions; it becomes extremely challenging for them to do the right thing for everyone. If we come across such authentic leaders, it is best to remind ourselves how challenging their roles must be, and refrain from any judgment.
When Gandhi was a law student, he was asked by the manager of the dormitory to tell a little boy to stop having sugar. The manager felt that the boy would listen to Gandhi because he admired and respected him. So, Gandhi agreed. Two weeks later the manager asked Gandhi if he had told the boy to stop eating sugar. Gandhi responded by saying yes he did, but only today. The manager asked Gandhi why did it take him two weeks to tell the boy? Gandhi responded by saying “because it took me two weeks to stop having sugar”.
This is a simple, yet profound example of being authentic. Gandhi refused to guide or advise anyone, even a little boy, to follow his advice if he could not do it himself. How often do we advise others about what they should do, when we refuse to do it ourselves? Merely, because we have the authority, we tend to feel that we have the responsibility to change others. However, we focus so much on our “responsibility” that we forget to look within ourselves, and in turn end up behaving like a hypocrite.
The world and the future generations are in dire need of heart-oriented individuals that encourage uniqueness and collaboration. Authenticity is attractive and contagious. Our beauty and brains will only take us so far, but authenticity will take us all the way. As we become authentic individuals, our virtues will shine from within us; and as we shine, we will unconsciously give others the inspiration and empowerment to reveal their authentic selves.
Here are 5 simple tips to become more authentic:
1. Every day Invest a few minutes in silence to go within and quiet the mind.
2. Focus on doing the “Right Thing,” not just simply following guidelines and doing things right.
3. Listen to your intuition. Slowly allow your mind to follow your heart to develop true intellect.
4. When you witness someone standing up for what is right, appreciate and acknowledge them. Inspire yourself with their courage to stand up for what you believe is right.
5. Always be honest with yourself. One who cannot deceive himself, cannot deceive anyone else.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson