Know Yourself – Be Authentic

Warwick Fairfax

November 13, 2018

What is authenticity?

In this age of Hollywood stars, celebrities and athletes, we often long to be someone else.  We long to be taller, more beautiful, more handsome, smarter, more self assured, more athletic.  Anything but who we are.  Taken to its extreme this desire to be someone else can even descend into self loathing.
It takes great courage to be authentic, to cast off your mask and be who you truly are.  It can feel scary.  It can make you feel vulnerable.  It is one thing for people to dislike or discount the fake you, the one with a mask, but it is far more threatening if people reject the real you, the authentic you.

Why is authenticity so important?

To be successful, to lead a life of significance, we have to know who we are. The Greeks had a phrase, Know Yourself. We have to know what we are good at —our strengths —and what we are not good at —our weaknesses.  We all come out of the box a certain way, with our own unique design.  We may be born extroverted or introverted, athletic or artistic.  We may be drawn to the sciences (such as math, biology, physics), or we may love the humanities (such as history, literature, music).  We are often tempted to shore up our weaknesses, areas we are not good at.  But our time would be better spent honing and refining our strengths, what we are good at.
We can then ask what profession, what calling that can help us lead a life of significance, something that helps others, should we pursue.  In essence we are asking what calling should we pursue that is based on how we are designed.
From my perspective, God made us for a reason.  He gave us a certain design to serve a greater good.  Why would we even think of rejecting the design that we have been given?
Living and leading in light of our design to follow a calling that serves a higher purpose, is far more fulfilling.  That is what being truly authentic is all about.  What others think about who we should be and what we should do is not as relevant.  What matters is living and leading in light of who we are.

How do I understand my design?

The first step that usually leads to our identity in life is not, “I know who I am.” It’s usually, “I know who I am not.” Process of elimination. Defining ourselves by what we are not, is the first step that leads us to really know who we are. And it’s usually in the wake of a crucible moment that you start to ask those questions of “who am I,” “who am I not,” “what does success mean to me”.
There are a number of tools out there to help us figure out who we are:  Myers Briggs, DISC, Strengths Finder.  We can also ask friends, family and colleagues who know us well about what we are good at (our strengths) and what we are not good at (our weaknesses).  We can look at the course of our lives and look at the times in our life where we enjoyed what we were doing and were good at it.  The SIMA Map, another good assessment, is a good tool that helps us do that.
Even without all these tools which can be helpful, we often have a sense of who we are, what we are good at, and what we are not good at.  What we enjoy.  What we don’t enjoy.  We often ignore what we know to be true about who we are to make others happy.  We often follow a career path that others say makes sense for us.
We have a far greater chance of being successful, of living a life that serves others, if we live a life that is in line with who we are and how we are designed.  Living in light of who we are not leads to a life of frustration and does not make a whole lot of sense. Being who we were destined to be, being truly authentic — that is a successful life. That is living a life of significance.

Reflection

Are you living in light of who you are and how you were designed, or are you living a life to please others?

What would it look like to live a life that serves a calling that is beyond yourself?

What next step are you going to take to live an authentic life that is grounded in who you truly are and were designed to be?

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