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Authenticity is one of those things you can feel. I'm not talking about an authentic piece of jewelry, pottery, or a painting. Nope...I'm taking about people. Us. What makes someone an authentic person, as opposed to a phony?

Lots of times it may be hard to detect the difference initially, but eventually either the "cream rises to the top" or the "face of phoniness flies open." It usually doesn't take long. Quite often body language gives it away. Or you get that..."I gotta go wash this off my hands" revelation. Phoniness is wrought with slickness, greed, false hope, a need for power and control (usually at the expense of you or someone else - but certainly not them), and - of course there's the bad makeup, clothes, hairdo/haircut, and/or jewelry (okay...maybe not the last four!).

Sometimes I gotta laugh at the incessant desire for some folks to overcompensate for their insecurities. After all, that's where the lack of authenticity usually comes from...doesn't it? After laughter comes the realization of sadness. Why aren't people just real. Who really cares what car you drive, how much money you have, or what your title is...really - who cares?! Those things may make you happy, and that's great - but when it's flaunted or used to pull one person into the web of someone else, that's another story. When the lack of authenticity is spotted early it can save you lots of angst, time and probably money as well. When it's not...it can create years of frustration.

The marketing and advertising industries within our society thrive on making people feel dispirited and not worthy and consequently, they need to compensate for low self-esteem by creating a false self. And...because of that, many people live as non-authentic beings - when they could just as easily realize that they're okay just the way they are! And...be much happier - both outwardly and, more importantly...inwardly.

Our culture loves to divide - whether it's religion, nationalism, race, or position. I can get into a diatribe about each of those mental constructs, but that's for another post. However, that's why I'm not big on titles. They seem to create an air of subjugation and separation. Often putting one group (or individual) below that of the titled. Therefore, I request that my students call me Dan, because Professor doesn't appear on my Birth Certificate, nor do the initials behind my name, or the word Doctor (which I'm not - but many insist on calling me) in front of it. I realize that some students have trouble with that from a cultural perspective. Consequently, I understand their discomfort and don't force the issue. But...you can bet they know I'm their professor. The title isn't necessary. The grades, unfortunately, are.

Years ago I wrote a book in which I spoke about the fact that leaders don't need titles. True leaders lead because of their actions not because of their titles. I don't address people by their titles. I know that might fly in the face of what most people believe...that calling someone by their title is a sign of respect to that person. However, I see it in the opposite light. What respect does it give to the person addressing? Respect comes from how one treats people, not what their title is. In other words, I don't believe ANYONE should be superficially made to seem greater or lesser than anyone else (including me). Titles seem to want to belie that fact. They are only descriptors and nothing more.

I appreciate the fact the someone (again - including me) went on to get additional degrees or performed certain functions that got them a "higher" position, certification, or rank, but...that goes after their name and/or on their resume. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that all people who put titles in front of their names aren't authentic and/or secure, and I'm sure most of them deserve those titles. I'm not judging them, just stating what I deem to be a societal norm. However...it certainly isn't necessary - and still creates a type of class structure.

Love, happiness, contentment, security, compassion, honesty, and empathy come from within. Someone who isn't "real" (regardless of their position) has a hard time displaying those important emotions in a way that reflects those things in their truest sense - and somehow people know that. Inauthentic behavior won't stand the test of time. It may be able to fool, as the saying goes..."Some of the people some of the time." But eventually it gets revealed. Your job is to not be the fool.

We must ALWAYS remember that no one is (or should be made to feel) greater or lesser than anyone else. Sure, some of us have greater or lesser knowledge in some areas than others, however...the reverse is ALWAYS true as well. That only means that the teacher is also the student, the doctor...the patient, the master...the apprentice. Happiness is here now. Do not let someone tell you, or make you feel, otherwise. They may guide you and help you, but they will be you in some other capacity. Of that you can be certain. So my friends, be authentic - ALWAYS. Your spirit is too important to live any other way.

I leave you with two quotes. Both of which I share with my students:

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Everything is meaningless except for love." Ralph Goldberg (my father)

Kinal Patel
6/2/2012 09:23:31 am

Of Authenticity, Titles, Respect, And Your Spirit really enjoy while reading it.

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Dan Goldberg
6/3/2012 11:26:04 am

Thank you Kinal!

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Thomas F
6/4/2012 04:28:55 am

"Why aren't people just real. Who really cares what car you drive, how much money you have, or what your title is...really - who cares?!"
As you've stated, it's because of our insecurities that we do care. Most of us are unable to accept that people don't care about us. I think it's called the spotlight effect in psychology where a person thinks they're being talked about but in actuality aren’t. We think people care what we drive; therefore we drive it, or want to drive it. It has a lot to do with one's self-confidence as well, instead of seeking self-actualization we instead attempt to gratify others hoping to gain their attention or change their opinion of us.

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Dan Goldberg
6/4/2012 06:22:04 am

Well said Thomas! Excellent insights. In fact...marketing plays on people's insecurities in order to sell things they actually don't need, but...feel they must have so that (as you say) the "spotlight" will shine on them for others to see.

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Nikki Patel
6/5/2012 02:56:20 am

Its really nice blog. I loved it so much.

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Dan Goldberg
6/5/2012 05:54:39 am

Thank you for your kind words Nikki.

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Martina
7/18/2012 05:20:53 pm

Yes, society does like to divide and unfortunately, it's used ideas like those on this blog to create even more of a schism between working classes. In my last job I was told that, "titles didn't matter", by the CEO. So what do I put on my resume? It was also stated that "credentials are unimportant" - a painful thing to hear about the 8 years of stress, toil and suffering I went through to get them. Not to mention a very broad disregard for how DIFFERENTLY someone with an education can process information which should be considered an ASSET to any organization. Actions can be misunderstood and, without "positions" people are in more flux than ever before! I really have to disagree that being authentic should NEVER be compared to the elements of career and education. I have a Master's degree and the best I can do is entry level jobs thanks to this kind of rhetoric catching on. We have enough problems with having a shrinking middle class.

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Dan Goldberg
7/20/2012 08:45:34 am

Martina,

Thanks so much for your comments. Having a title is one thing, having a position, being an asset to an organization, and being able to perform and bring value to yourself and your company, are something else.

My belief is that titles are descriptors. Which doesn't mean that a person shouldn't tell other people their function(s), or their position within an organization, or...how well they've accomplished things for their company, and the responsibilities that they've taken on.

My point is that titles shouldn't be used to divide people or make them feel subjugated so that some other person's ego can be satisfied.

What a person does, and has done, must hold weight and bring authenticity to them as a person (from the view of others, as well as themselves), when it comes to their ability to function within the framework of a position and its responsibilities.

Thanks again Martina. You feedback is greatly appreciated!

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