Authenticity is much bandied about currently, whether in self-help books, spirituality guidance, or leadership books. Its something I admire: a lot. It’s something about which I’m conscious, every day.
I’ve been touching on work with authenticity for many years. What has struck me most is that it is often partnered – consciously or otherwise – with a “take me as I am or leave me” attitude. Quite in-your-face. Actually, quite aggressive. Almost authenticity on steroids.
I’ve been exposed to the teachings and thinking of St Ignatius of Loyola. he apparently had an approach of “meet people where they are”. That tension – of being authentic but simultaneously meeting people where they are, intrigues me. It could be argued that you have to not be who you are (i.e. authentic) to meet people where they are? I think it depends on one’s definition of authenticity. And boundaries. I can be fully and authentically me, without spilling my history and family skeletons to a stranger. Authenticity has connotations of not being fraudulent or false – perhaps St Ignatius poses us a wonderful challenge.
Perhaps the greatest test of our own authenticity is in fact the audience for it. Faced with anybody in the world, irrespective of their problem, issue or circumstances, how different might my response be to that person? Do I respond consistently with all the qualities that I believe are core to who I am, irrespective of their social standing, their power, how they look, their influence over me or their bank-balance?
I think my grades might need improving…….