The Authenticity Gap

“Like everyone else, she [Wendy] has a gap between who she is and who she thinks she is. Think about it: do you know someone who is just outright gorgeous? Rarely do they know it. Usually they are even more self-conscious than the rest of us. Or the other extreme – they seem conceited, vain, which underneath is overblown insecurity. Rarely do we meet the mark: we are who we are. No good; no bad. Right on the point. So please, continue. That’s what matters.”

From The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg

I have read this passage over and over.

On first blush, it’s tempting to think that we need to drop the charade and be true to who we are, but, I think, it goes much deeper.

Who am I?

Isn’t that the most fundamental question of all?

And, it’s not just about coming up with a lucid answer. It’s about living out our lives in a way that is authentic to our true purpose. As I said in yesterday’s post, freedom is not doing whatever you want, but knowing who you are, what you are supposed to do whilst you are here and doing it.

In a business sense, too many people end up pursuing a path that seems right at the time, but, in hindsight, was selected for reasons unrelated to their true purpose. To put this in real-world parlance, how many people do you meet who are pursuing a vocation as opposed to turning up for work, exchanging their time for money? Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with money – we all need to eat – but the problem is that where work takes up so much of our lives, it means that we can never be fulfilled in what we do.

Next time you are confronted with a career or life decision, ask yourself are you ‘right on point’? The smaller the gap the less likely it is that you will end up pursuing something that is sure to disappoint (“If only I…”).


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