It’s challenging to be your authentic self in the world today. Marketing seems to have taken over every aspect of life. There’s been a blurring between business, sports, and daily life in the personal coaching and self-marketing phenomenon. People seem to want to be “cheered on” to greatness, yet is it authentic, soul-guided greatness, or a “greatness” defined by social values that tout fame, financial gain, and material acquisition above anything else?
Ultimately, life is not a business (or a sports event), and marketing yourself without awareness can lead to inauthenticity and an unhappy life, both at work and at home. In author Susan Cain’s recent book Quiet, she discusses the cultural bias in favor of extraverted behavior in our society. In schools, homes, and workplaces across this country, individuals are encouraged—nay, pushed—to be outgoing, super-productive team-players. Quiet contemplative solo time is heavily discouraged, and those who do their best creative work alone or who like to balance social time with solitude often find themselves as either uncomfortable full-time group participants or total outsiders.
We have lost touch with the value of authenticity, a life lived in alignment with the soul’s deepest flowering, unique to each person. It’s time to “get real,” as the saying goes. There is no cookie-cutter prototype for the best way to work and live on this planet. We need fluid social/work structures that allow for variation and individuality. Some of the most creative innovators in history did not fit in but walked their own path to greatness. It’s time we recognized this and allowed each person the freedom to expand and grow in his or her own way. Hardened social paradigms stunt individual expression and authenticity. Fluidity and flexibility open the door for all people, whatever their creative style, to be their soul selves in the world.
Of course, we’re facing a monolithic business prototype that values competition over cooperation, profit and product over people, and that too has to shift. So many men and women are caught on the hamster wheel of achievement and acquisition, but as the planet begins to rebalance itself, these values will change also. Status and material objects do not equal happiness. It’s like the old Frank Capra classic film You Can’t Take It With You, in which friendship, family, and community are found to bring greater joy (and much more fun!) than corporate boardrooms. Capra had a penchant for making those kinds of films. It’s a Wonderful Life has a similar message: money is valued only when it’s shared and can help others.
So what exactly is “real” in our rapidly changing social matrix today? Real is looking deep inside yourself and living from that soul place. There is a quiet voice within that will guide you to your own creative expression in life. In listening to and living in alignment with your inner spirit, you will “be the change you wish to see in the world.” You don’t have to wait for validation from outside. In being true to your soul self, you will inspire others to do the same, and together we will co-create a reality that fulfills our greatest dreams.