Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—One of the most valuable qualities a person can possess is the ability to understand and get along with people. Regardless what one’s profession may be, one will always have to interact with other people either privately of publicly, yet few people invest in acquiring skills that will enable them to effectively engage in fruitful interactions with others.
I was reading an article this morning that claimed to teach people how to be genuine. It is impossible to teach someone how to be genuine. Either people are genuine, or they are not. There is no in-between —just like a woman cannot be a little bit pregnant. Either she is, or she’s not.
Dale Carnegie said, “Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions. It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy.
It is what you think about it. For example, two people may be in the same place, doing the same thing; both may have about an equal amount of money and prestige —and yet one may be miserable and the other happy. Why? Because of a different mental attitude.”
In a sense Carnegie is talking about the authentic self. It also has to do with putting purpose behind one’s actions and having the right motive for doing something. It is the purity of intention that makes people genuine because the actions do not seem contrived.
Authenticity is sub-communicated. The hallmark of authenticity is being honest with a person’s self. This means deeply examining and taking an inventory of ourselves—something that’s too uncomfortable for many. When we dislike who we are at the core, it is impossible to examine ourselves out of fear of shattering our false personae. We are then forced to wear masks and masquerade through life hiding from
the true selves we are unwilling to confront. We find the truth about ourselves to be nauseating, because of the deeply-seated insecurities that plague our beings. Yet behind all the facade is the desire to feel worthwhile or important, and to a small extent to be likeable.
Some might use social status, material wealth or other superficial means to be validated by others, but this generates an unhealthy outlook within the one seeking acceptance or the need to fit in. It is dependent upon what others think about you instead of how you view yourself.
When I was eight years old in third grade, after our mid-terms we received our grades in science class. I was new at the school, and most of the kids were bright. The teacher always had a habit of calling out our names, and reading the grades in front of the class. When my turn came, he called my name and read my grade, which was an average grade. He then said to me, “Why can’t you be intelligent like your father?”
He then rudely handed me my paper and I went back and took my seat. At the end of the semester, the teacher gave my parents the report card and said, “You have a clever son…but you need to scare him a little to make him more talkative.”
The teacher was surprised that I and two other pupils had tied with the highest grade. I did not let him define me, because at an early age I knew who I was. I also did not raise my hand in class so he assumed I did not know the answers—but when I got the highest grade, he rationalized by once again assuming I was quiet, and needed to be more talkative. Most people who are not good at certain subjects are the way they are because perhaps they believed a teacher or parent who told them they would never be good at that subject. They allowed someone else to define them, and those are the types of people, who as adults, tend to seek validation and the to be accepted. They are afraid to blaze their own trails and instead run with the crowd.
We are all endowed with unique abilities. You are never as good as people say you are, but at the same time, you are never as bad as people would like you to believe. The unique quality I discovered about myself at the age of eight was the ability to recall things in detail. I am still greatly benefiting from this as an adult, especially in recalling specific dates and events. I discovered I could quote entire lectures or paragraphs from textbooks after reading them once or twice. I still took notes so as not to offend my teachers.
True authenticity does not need validation, status or fancy material things. One does not need to learn how to be popular or likeable. Authentic people do things with the right intention, rather than with good intentions. They add value to other people’s lives, instead of being takers. They are whole because they’ve learned to embrace who they truly are, and are in harmony with their very essence and the underlying reason they exist.