Correct, But No Help At All


"There's been a lot of talk about this next song -- maybe too much talk! This is not a rebel song -- this song is Sunday, Bloody Sunday."

[Bono, U2 - Under a Blood Red Sky (1983)]

Some songs are oft' mentioned and oft' quoted. Some ideas stir up dis-chord and some ideas sow harmony. Some words are novel, and some words have holes in their soles.
One such word is "authenticity", and it's equally hackneyed pairing in the form of "authentic leadership".

I once thought that Honesty and Authenticity were the same. Now I do not. I once thought that saying exactly what you thought and felt, irrespective of what other people thought of it was the most authentic thing you can do. Now I do not. I have had to re-frame my thinking substantially, and it has been a rather painful journey.

Through the course of this year I have researched and written on the topic at length for various training programs and manuals, and I have also been tested to breaking point by the very words I have written.

M. Scott Peck, in his insightful book, The Road Less Travelled, wrote about honesty in our dealings with other people. My adaptation of his thoughts is:

  1. Never tell a lie.
  2. Only withhold the full truth when it is in the interest of the other for you to do so.
  3. Accept the moral responsibility for, and consequences of, your choice.

His definition of truth-telling is therefore slightly nuanced from what the preachers often say. And this form of truth-telling more closely resembles the type of Honesty that I have unearthed in Authenticity. This type of honesty is the kind that is no less burdensome to carry, but it is far more useful.

Look, if we are honest with ourselves about it . . . wait, did I just say that? Did I just imply that it is possible to be dishonest with oneself? Indeed it is, and this is the first deep lesson that caught me by surprise this year. It's not that I was unaware of my own personal shortcomings and deviance, but I was not quite as ready to deal with the fact that almost all of the occasions when I felt most aggrieved by others, were also the times when I was most prone to justifying my own choices to violate what I intrinsically knew to be the right and loving thing to do. I was in the mode of self-deception. So I was, in a sense, not being truthful with myself.

With self-deception as my starting point, and with the slow dawning of awareness of my own motivations, I also started to examine the way in which I interacted with other people. How could I "show up" in such a way that my words and actions were very aligned with the inner-self (and not the self-deceived inner-self, but the one that already passed that test)? I knew that I would then also be "authentic".

It is said that discretion is the better part of valour. And so it was here too: authenticity proved to be more subtle; righteous fervour was but one peddle on the bicycle - the other peddle was appropriate moderation.

So the clear and incisive opinion-arrows of the heart, passing unchecked and unhindered over the tongue, may not be as helpful as we intend. The nuance, I am learning, rests in what Peck calls "withholding the full truth". The full truth is often a sharp and weighty thing -- sometimes too weighty for us to lay upon another. The slow unfolding of truth may thus be a lighter load, and one for which we should build fitness in others before tightening the string on the bow of our "superior wisdom".

But the deep, very deep, internal capability for moderated responses takes time to nurture. But nurture it we must. So, if I had a life-coach (which I do not, so I will have to be my own coach) I would ask my coach to ask me these questions about my inner-self and my moderating-self. I recommend that everyone ask themselves these questions. It can't do any harm.

  1. Who do I want to be "tomorrow"? Is there a necessity to change?
  2. Are my assumptions about myself and the world true?
  3. How do I identity myself (and what is my unique contribution to the world)?
  4. Where did THAT emotion come from?
  5. Where can I get honest and accurate feedback about myself?
  6. Am I prepared to share my personal growth journey?

In the final analysis, for both my sake and the sake of those I touch, being helpful is more important than being correct.

But, and here's it the twist, being incorrect is no help at all.

Comments

Songs are something which comes from the heart. This is related to someone's emotions and when some other person listens that song, he/she will try to relate it with their own emotions. The choice of songs depend on the mood of the person. Regards, life coach