At one point, she made this powerful statement:
“AUTHENTICITY CANNOT BE FAKED.”
First thing that popped into my head on hearing the above:
“The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”
Wrongly attributed to Jean Giraudoux , George Burns, and Arthur Bloch, and probably first uttered by an anonymous actress (see footnote).
After giving myself a good Gibbs Headslap for that snarky initial response, I gave this seemingly simple statement some more thought.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION: Authenticity is when you speak, act, and think in ways congruent and consistent with your values, beliefs, and attitudes
YES, YOU CAN …
If someone else believes that you are telling the truth and acting honestly when you are not in fact doing so, you have fooled them. This happens regularly in politics, business, and the entertainment industry.
Some business models are built on the assumption that you can, in fact, fake sincerity and convince people you are sincere in spite of reality.
NO, YOU CAN’T …
The above examples and statement aside, we are left with our own internal sense of consistency. We may be able to fool others into thinking we are sincere in a particular context, but we really cannot fool ourselves.
Yes, we can have internal dialogues or stories which justify what we do and say as right, appropriate, or necessary. We believe many things to be true of ourselves which are not so. This is a paradox of sorts: We falsely believe we are not being false.
The reality is that if we search deeply within ourselves in an honest manner, we always find that we know when we are faking it and when we are making it.
WHY IT MATTERS …
Probably to some people, this is not an important consideration.
The politician who desires power, the businessperson who craves wealth, and the actor whose livelihood depends on making you believe something is so when it is not, are driven by strong motivations.
Notice I have said nothing yet about the value or relative worth of those motivations.
Desiring power or wealth is not something inherently bad, but our actions in pursuit of power or wealth and our use of both may be very negative.
Simply put, what drives us determines what matters and how it matters …
We are at our best when our actions and behaviors match what we feel inside AND our motivations are altruistic and benevolent.
The politician who desires power to control others and for personal gain, regardless of impact, is not authentic …
The politician who desires power in order to promote the general good and improve the welfare of all because they believe that to be the right thing to do is being authentic …
Or so it seems to me …
What makes you authentic?
How does this works in the real world?
How do we do the wrong things for the right reasons or vice versa?
Tangling myself all up in philosophical knots in the Heartland ….