This series on personal authenticity has focussed predominantly on the relevance of the individual’s alignment with his or her own truth and truth’s impact upon relationships with others. Part 6 looks at the wider implications of personal authenticity beyond the notion of personal development and the individual’s sense of inner contentment.
The contemporary world is,most would agree, fraught with stresses, crises, impending catastrophy, profound injustice, and existential threats to our very existence as a species. There are discreet reasons for this. The human race’s anthropocentric view of the world, and narcissistic view of self as both superior and entitled, coupled with an economic system rooted in generationally hoarded wealth for the few and endless struggle for the many has resulted in our dog-eat-dog culture of competition against one another as we compete for crumbs from the master’s table. The cultural decline of personal responsibility and the rise of fear politics and executive dictates worsen our social environment, promoting habits of fighting over what we want rather than cooperating over what we need.
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which the flower grows, not the flower”
~Alexander Den Heijer
Changing Your World
Where Martin Buber spoke of our elevation to the I-Thou way of relating to life and one another as a means by which we can relate to our fellow humans and all forms of life in a way that honours, respects and values them, contemporary exploitation economics does the reverse, treating other people, animals, and the environment as objects of our utility; things to be used and exploited to serve the money, power and social status desires of the individual ego. As if this were not a sad enough state of devolved existence, we then reinforce the insidious practices of exploitation by referring to them and the profits gleaned from them as ‘success’, ‘good business’, and other endorsements of self-serving behaviours and customs that cannot exist without a discreet departure from personal integrity and relating to others authentically.
Cultivating personal authenticity as an existential shift – a return to the truth of one’s Being – in our lives, our ways of conducting ourselves in the workplace, in financial transactions, in our lifestyle and buying choices seems not only wise, but crucial if we are to reverse an escalating trend towards catastrophic failure of the human species and global environment. As such, it is possible for people concerned about their world to do the individual work necessary to resist normative and indoctrinating forces within education, institution and business that seek to maximise profit and individual kudos via cultural systems that rely on the exploitation, usurping or diminishment of other people and the biosphere itself.
Refusing to Join the Crowd
For this reason, I decided to put together focussed modules of twelve weekly sessions that concentrate specifically on two areas of personal development:
- Developing personal authenticity in our business and professional life
- Personal authenticity in our relationships and everyday life
Each of these short modules is aimed at helping conscientious individuals, employees, professionals, managers and business owners review, challenge and redesign their personal approach to ‘making a living’ and more broadly to operating in the world in a way that allows us to bring the force and value of individual truth to bear in the service of personal needs, but with respect to the impact that our choices necessarily and instrinsically have upon others and our immediate and global environment.
Some of the themes that can be explored in developing personal authenticity:
Why personal authenticity in business is good for business and why it’s unwise to merely fake authenticity or just be ‘nice’ with people
Discering inauthenticity, false authenticity, lies, deceit and incongruence in others and developing the skills to look after oneself
How to avoid ‘losing oneself’ in inauthentic groups and interactions with others
Dealing with passive-aggression, bullying, harassment, narcissism and other toxic behaviours in others
How personal authenticity helps improve the working environment by revealing problems and inviting solutions in workplaces and relationships
How to form authentic cultures in the workplace so that whistleblowing becomes unnecessary
Moral, honest business practice is better for people and the environment than sales and marketing techniques and manipulation systems like NLP
Customers, clients and patients value and trust authenticity in practitioners – they don’t trust false or mimicked authenticity
Each module – rather than being curriculum-based or prescriptive – is tailored over twelve or more sessions to individual needs and particular context with specific themes to be explored. Modules can can be coupled with a life review, with the overall aim of challenging assumptions, habits and personal conscience around business ethics and morals, the role we play as consumers, managers, carers, professionals, teachers, employees, friends, comrades, partners, parents and leaders. With the development of one’s own personal authenticity comes greater clarity and awareness of our ways of relating to others as ‘customers’, ‘clients’, ‘patients’, ‘students’, ‘the public’ and other people who assume and to whom we assign mere transactional roles in our lives, and who typically become reduced to the staus of objects by our routine and habitual ways of relating.
Honouring Self and Others
Authencity serves as both a means of looking after our own interests responsibly whilst at the same time relating to others in ways that can strengthen relationships by genuine relating. Becoming more aware of the value – for self and other – of relating authentically becomes the seed of change that can shift us out of self-defeating, destructive, exploitative, devaluing practices and habits that promote resentments, deceptions and fears, into much more rewarding ways of being than those which the current slash-and-burn and ego-economics model of self-interest can possibly allow.
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