Where does authenticity come from?

October 11, 2009

Unfortunately, for many of us, true authenticity can only come from finding ourselves in desperate situations.  I am speaking from personal experience here.

I recently spoke to a room full of newly unemployed people, folks who had never really known that kind of desperation before.  At the end, the first question was,

“Do you have to reach that point of feeling like you have very little left to lose, before you can begin to acknowledge and appreciate your own uniqueness?”

My only answer was, “I did.”  Before that point, I still believed I had all the answers.  I still believed in the traditional American dream and felt like it was working for me to some extent.  In other words, I was still willing to ignore my deepest personal need to become my best self, because I had some sort of marriage and job and that felt safe.  Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken!

But when that all crumbles before your eyes, when everything you thought you knew about yourself and your future is no longer true, desperation CAN lead to inspiration.

The same can be said about marriage.  If you have a mediocre marriage that meets a few of your needs and you feel safe, you may stay in it, because the alternatives look grim.  But when that marriage ends, you are forced to become much more creative when thinking about your future.  You realize now anything could happen, and that can be refreshing and terrifying at the same time.

But if you are willing to take the necessary risks and take the time to invest in finding a better future for yourself, help is available.  If you are certain you don’t want to go back to the same old, same old or your life feels like it has turned into a 9-to-5 way of dying, you are now ready to change for the better.

You may be ready to find the courage inside to explore what you were put on this earth to do!

Remember: do-overs are indeed possible before it’s all over!

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Is “The Element” the answer?

March 13, 2009

OK, I admit it.  I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately in my search for midlife meaning.

I’ve also been having quite a bit of pain in my lower back.  It’s nothing new, old injuries from too many moves and bike accidents, I’m sure.  I was always the stubborn one, wouldn’t wait for help when moving heavy furniture, just powered on through.  Now I regret it all, now that I can hardly move!

It probably didn’t help that I watched a very cynical (but funny!) movie yesterday called “Confessions of a dangerous mind” (2003).  Have you ever seen it?  It’s definitely a dark comedy along the same lines as “Burn After Reading”.  It’s supposedly the autobiography of  Chuck Barris who created such crazy success stories as “The Dating Game”, “The Newlywed Game” and The Gong Show for network TV.  He also claims to have killed 33 spies as a CIA operative in the process!

So here’s his final idea for a game show called “The Old Game.”  You put three old guys with loaded guns in a room and ask them revealing questions about their lives like: “Who are you?” “What have you accomplished?” and “How close have you come to realizing your dreams?’  Whomever doesn’t blow his brains out wins a refrigerator!

I’m also reading the book “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” (#517 in Amazon sales right now).  After a scathing assessment of our school systems (i.e. Paul McCarthy was told he had no musical talent in high school, not even allowed into the choir!), author Ken Robinson explains that “the Element” is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.

Apparently finding our own “element” is the goal because, “when people arrive at their Element, they feel most themselves, most inspired, and achieve at their highest levels.”  Then Sir Robinson shows that age and occupation are no barriers.  He looks at what conditions enable us to find ourselves in the Element and what stifles that possibility.  It’s all about enhancing our own creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination.

Still haven’t finished it yet.  I’ll let you know if I find my “Element” anytime soon.  In the meantime, I’ll try to stay off “The Old Game”!!!