Authenticity

wildhairIn “You’ve Got Mail”, Tom Hanks says that “The Godfather” is the sum of all wisdom. I beg to differ. I believe it is “Madagascar”. Besides King Julian’s rants, there is much to be learned about human behaviour.

Note, for instance, Marti the zebra’s feeling that he was made for something different to the pampered lifestyle in a zoo. Out of interest, National Geographic, in its documentary on stress, mention that zebras live long lives, because they only stress when in danger, as opposed to living in a constant state of adrenalin. Alex the lion, too, senses what he was really made for when he is ravenous. Even his close friends become potential prey, which is what they would normally be.

I am not suggesting we procure a zebra sandwich, but rather that we all have an authentic “hard-wired” talent system resident within us. We may neglect it, and thus live mediocre or unfulfilled lives, but it rewards us with “flow” (see the seminal work of Cziksentmihalyi) and effortless high performance when engaged. Authenticity surpasses “Windhoekness” – keeping it real – and encompasses the style, flavour and finesse which we bring to a project. Ten accountants could be assigned to a project, yet each would have different talents (natural strengths combined with skill and knowledge). Tom Peters has for years been promoting the “PSF”, or professional service firm. He encourages the “portfolio” view of work – having a variety of skills or interests, and thus being approached for different projects, dependent on demand. This implies that we should be professional enough to be selected, and remunerated, on a project basis, as opposed to salary.

Do we know what makes us valuable? To our market? Sustainably?

Few of us know our authentic voice, or have practised using it to impact others, and indeed, make a living. Our authentic voice is who we are when we strip away the status, power, wealth and achievements that so often define us. It is the soul behind the social-approval masks, the self truly worthy of respect and dignity. And it has a purpose. One which it longs to fulfill. One which makes it feel alive and energetic. And causes us to desire growth, excellence and ongoing achievement.

Once we have uncapped WHO we are, the other questions become relevant, particularly WHAT we do, WHY and WHERE we do so. There is no shortcut to Discovery. If we take time to reflect on our essential biases, our history of flow and successes, we will become aware of the gentle patterns of genius embedded in our make-up. Best we align ourselves with our magnificent, original design.

After all, who will wear our fingerprints, if we do not?

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