Last year, I spent a whole year thinking about Fundamental Well-being and writing about it in this section. I enjoyed the theme so immensely that this year, I am carrying on with another full year of putting my mind each month to the inquiry of:
What does it take to be in fundamental well-being?
Recently, I’ve made a connection to authenticity and reflection when I was teaching a course on Leadership at the Justice Institute of BC’s Centre for Leadership. There were 11 courageous people gathered to examine themselves, their definitions and practices around the idea of being a leader.
One of the concepts we explored was being authentic. When I first heard the idea of being an authentic leader, I was puzzled. What does it mean to be authentic? In this course, we looked at that.
There is often insight in etymology and the word has roots in the Greek word authentes – meaning “one acting on one’s authority” and comes from autos meaning “self.”
So, to be authentic means to look at oneself, to be self-aware. As it is said, the phrase “Know Thyself” was carved into the stone at the entrance of the Greek Apollo’s temple at Delphi. And when asked to sum up what all the philosophical commandments could be reduced to, Socrates answered: “Know thyself.” He was also reported to have said: “The unexamined life is not worth living” at this trial for impiety.
Yet, how to we become more auto-thentic – more self-aware?
This is where reflection comes in. Reflection is the pausing/stopping/listening that provides us the silence to source out who we truly are and what we truly want. There’s plenty of distraction in the world. We are after all, human – we get caught up in our endless restlessnesses & dissatisfactions. There are many shows to watch & participate in to keep us in distraction.
But what show do I want to choose to watch or participate inw?
Many don’t choose – e simply watch what’s in front of us or play out what’s been programmed into us. No discernment – no choosing.
And, there is a type of flow to that: to be run by our conditioning. Being run by our conditioning is not reflection and it is not where true freedom or the real magic resides. What is the engine that powers the steering wheel of our lives then?
It is our choosing to hit the strings and create from the place of our deepest, most authentic desires. What do I want to create & live into? What’s most important to me? We need reflection to allow those inner truths – our more authentic selves – to arise up and to be heard. As they say – the heart speaks in whispers.
Of course, as you know, you can’t always get what you want even when you act. But that’s not the purpose of the desire we hear through reflection. Our desire points us to our North Star! Our desire/heart promptings draw us forward!
Our heart whispers and true, authentic desires guide us to know ourselves more deeply – to be free flowing BE-INGS in harmony with life herself & to be guided by her.
That requires reflection. Reflection is from the Latin reflex – “bent back.” Reflection allows us to see and hear ourselves more deeply. When that is our way of reflecting, it is a true source of well-being and guidance. It is when we reflect with a distorted mirror, that we move into neurosis, not reflection.
And it is in self-awareness, the pursuit of the authentic self, combined with reflection, to hear its voice, that we find access to fundamental well-being. As Sheryl Sandberg tells us:
“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”