In his 2002 Best Documentary acceptance speech at the Oscars for Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore declared that we live in “fictitious times.” Whether or not you agree with his politics, it’s hard to deny the truth of this statement. We live in a society that is rife with fakeness and driven from all directions by forces with their own agendas telling us who to be.
Kids face peer pressure, urging them to change who they are in order to attain popularity. Corporations and marketers aim to convince us that we can’t be happy without their products. Politicians use fear and manipulation as weapons to try to shape our beliefs and win our votes. Many workplaces enforce a sterile, emotionless environment where our deepest humanity cannot be expressed. And if we flip on the television or radio, we will be met with an onslaught of cliché, prepackaged content that aims more for superficial image and ratings than substance.
Starving for Reality
“Give me real don’t give me fake.” – Coldplay
In order to survive in our families, communities and society under such conditions, most of us feel compelled to comply with these many forces and gradually repress some of our greatest and most beautiful talents and passions. But while we may keep these parts of ourselves under wraps on the surface, they always remain underneath, wielding incredible power from deep within us. While we aren’t always conscious of it, this circumstance creates a deep hunger for something genuine in many of us.
It is because of this that when we come suddenly across something that we experience as true and genuine, our “lost self” is drawn magnetically toward it and it can have a powerful impact on us. In many cases it can engender envy, as we secretly long to be as honest and real as that which we are experiencing. But it can also bring great hope and joy.
The Joy of Discovering the Genuine
The sudden discovery of the genuine can be one of the most moving experiences we have in this day and age. It can even happen with something as seemingly mundane as a political reform. For example, every time I went to vote, I was forced to repress a part of myself because some of the candidates that I really felt were best and who moved me the most had no real chance to win. Therefore, voting for them would constitute “wasting” my vote. Then one day, I happened to read about Instant Runoff Voting. The idea hit on a powerful truth about the unfairness of our election system and exercised a strong pull on the part of me that was starving for the ability to express my authenticity when I vote. This propelled me to passionately promote this reform in the years to come.
This process can be exponentially more powerful when we discover something or someone that displays genuine emotion in a way that we ourselves have been unable to do. For instance, I have had a number of intense experiences when I suddenly discovered a new musician – someone not yet famous at the time, who I had never yet heard of or seen and did not recognize – that exuded authentic talent and soul. The first times I heard Norah Jones, Amos Lee, and Chris Daughtry all impacted me in this way because their performances were clearly based in deep conviction and solid knowledge of who they are and clearly came from the heart.
These were people doing what they were born to do, something increasingly rare and fragile in these times.
Authenticity: The Crucial Antidote
“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
These moments when we are moved by something real and true are more than just pleasant surprises. They represent a crucial component in retaining our humanity and preserving the potential for a healthy world for ourselves and our children. The moments when we and others are at our most authentic, using our most natural talents to impact others, are moments when we experience purpose and fulfillment. And a world full of purposeful and fulfilled people is a world far more likely to be able to resist the forces pulling us toward unhealthy agendas that are not in our best interest.
A Good Time For Talent
Luckily, there has rarely been a better time for us to bring more of these moments into our lives. There are a wide variety of resources and tools from coaching to workbooks to help people find and develop their talents. The Internet offers an incredible ability to find and connect with others around the world who can partner or support you in using those talents. American Idol has made the idea of the meritocracy – a setting in which people can show their talents directly to the public for judging – a wildly popular one, launching unknowns into major music stars. And the social networking tools of Web 2.0 allow anyone with a computer, microphone and video camera to share their talents with millions of people in just seconds.
Meghan Julius and Kiersten Holine: Two Examples from YouTube
I am often on YouTube, browsing videos of favorite musicians. Each time I do, related links are shown, many of which consist of amateurs doing cover versions of that artist’s songs. Some of the covers are terrible, some mediocre and some good. And then there are Meghan Julius and Kiersten Holine.
Both of these unsigned musicians offered me a moment of the joy of discovering the genuine when I came across their clips. These are singers with real talent, who sing from the soul, and who – through the power of social networking online – have engendered thousands of well-deserved accolades and a ready-made fan base all without even the benefit of a record contract. Some artists such as these have already gone on to receive contracts or built their careers from their online recognition. I hope that these two are also able to use their growing recognition to pursue whatever they wish with their talents.
My Passion for Talent Development and Promotion
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson
When I come across under-recognized ideas like Instant Runoff Voting or artists like Norah Jones, Amos Lee, Chris Daughtry, Meghan Julius and Kiersten Holine, I feel an overwhelming desire to spread the word about them and make sure that they are discovered and able to impact as many people as possible. I know that that desire is partly tied into my own lost self that longs to continue emerging and being expressed. It also ties into my understanding that these ideas and people have the ability to serve as crucial examples of the power of authenticity.
By inspiring others to overcome their fears and live out their own true selves, they can have a major impact on our society. It is for these reasons that I began coaching myself, and set up my company to help others find and apply their talents and true self.
Finding, Developing and Promoting Your Talents and True Self
We all have a role to play in bringing back more authenticity in these increasingly fictitious times. While we can find inspiration in some of the places I’ve discussed, ultimately we have to look within. We need to ask ourselves question like:
- What are the things that come most naturally to you?
- When have you been most able to positively impact others?
- What were the factors involved in moments where you felt most authentic and true to yourself?
- What is your real personality type?
- When have you had your greatest successes?
- What people or organizations can you turn to for support in growing your true self and building confidence? Could you benefit from coaching to find and develop your talents?
- What tools can you use to promote your talents to others?
Remember to be incremental. You don’t have to become a superstar overnight. Find your talents, use them a bit more, develop skill, promote to a few people, and keep building one step at a time. As you gradually reclaim your authentic self, you will become healthier yourself and become an inspiration to others to do the same. And you will become part of a ripple effect of reality that can help to gradually erode the superficial veil that is often cast over our lives these days.
Tags: american idol, amos lee, authenticity, chris daughtry, coaching, election reform, fulfillment, incrementalism, instant runoff voting, kiersten holine, lost self, marketing & promotion, meghan julius, music, norah jones, personal development, personal growth, personality type, positive change, promotion, psychology, purpose, repression, social change, social networking, success, talent, talent development, true self, web 2.0, youtube
Included in: Carnival of Rock 'n' Roll for September 1, 2007, Doing it Differently Blog Carnival, 10th Edition, Live the Power Unlimited Carnival, Volume 6, Carnival of New Blogs, August 27, 2007, Carnival on Personal Power, September 2, 2007, Carnival of Positive Thinking, September 2, 2007, Blog Carnival for Success, Edition #2, The Personal Development Carnival, September 2, 2007 Edition, Carnival of Mindfulness, Issue #4