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Jim Stroup


In a world where managers are inundated with advice on how to make mythic figures - heros or saints - of themselves, this post is an important spash of cool, clear water. I especially like the caution about humility not being false modesty - humility is generally promoted in such grandiose and elevated terms that it is adopted, or, rather, affected - we all have seen this - with the most unsettling arrogance.

You are speaking of authenticity in a way similar to the way I define integrity: being what you represent yourself to be, and representing yourself to be what you, in fact, are.

This is great advice - and it fits in perfectly with your recent theme on reducing stress. Being honest with yourself on this issue will not only restore your authenticity, it will increase your focus, and reduce the stress you feel from the unwarranted expectations you make of yourself.

What a great post! Thanks!

peter vajda

Hi Steve,

Thanks for this food for thought.

The kicker for me is that everyone is born authentic. It’s just that we then spend countless minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years separating from our innate, authentic self. Then, of course, we become confused. “Who am I, really?” becomes the operative question.

Spending our time wearing one mask to ourselves, and other to the multitudes we meet along the way at work, at play, at home, in relationships, we become confused souls. Stressful and bewildering. Many of us don’t really know who we, ourselves, are.

Because of our inner sense of insecurity, something we learn to internalize in childhood, many of us have become actors trying to appear as our selves, efforting, “trying” to be "myself" rather than just “being myself.” Leading to nothing but self-deceit and much stress, many folks then spend huge amounts of time and energy searching for who they really are without arriving at an answer. The difficulty is that discovering one’s authenticity is the work of the soul – and most folks “think” they can do it “in their heads”, that it’s something one “figures out.” Hmmm.

So, becoming (consciously or unconsciously) obsessive over how we appear to others, we manifest the need for unusual amounts of admiration, recognition and approval from others. So, we “do what we have to do” to get it…and this means, not being myself, not being authentic, with "warts and all", or being and feeling vulnerable, etc. So, we then behave in ways that are grandiose, false, inauthentic, and reactive.

The greatest obstacle in being authentic is that most folks have come to identify with self-images they have taken on from their parents, their friends, their schooling, the media, etc. and this is who they take themselves to be. When we let go of these “mental” self-images, and come from our Inner Core and True Self, we can be authentic. But few are able or willing to do the deeper exploration of our selves to look at the “spiritual” truth of who we are…so another day, another mask, another persona, another attitude, another new expensive car, another new outfit, another in-your-face, overbearing, controlling, egotistical, self-centered, superficial and narcissistic “me” – a “me” I really don’t know at all.

So, when we separate from our Core self, this disconnect manifests largely as our ego-self, which leads to a loss of self-esteem and sensing this loss of self-esteem, we try as hard as we can to recover our sense of value and worth from the outside…shoring up our self by being phony and fake - in thought, word, and deed, failing to be, and fearing to be, authentic.

The $10 question is “What’s right about not showing up as my true and real self, as my authentic self?”

Carolyn Manning

For one thing, how can someone claim to be humble? Isn't the declaration of humility counter to actually being humble? As Jim said, oh where is it?, here: "humility is generally promoted in such grandiose and elevated terms that it is adopted, or, rather, affected . . . with the most unsettling arrogance".

And, as for authenticity, we all have strengths as well as weaknesses. We'd be better off acknowledging the weaknesses, rather than trying to hide or deny them with our strengths. No one is good at everything.

Steve Roesler


Indeed, one wouldn't declare humility...I re-read the post and can't find anywhere that I said that. But, writing is always open to nuance in interpretation.

And of course, it would be foolhardy to deny one's weaknesses.

"No one is good at everything."

Since that is what the post was about, perhaps I should have used that as the title.

Billy Smith


Great post. It reminds me of what Ken Blanchard says about humility, "Its not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."


Steve Roesler


Didn't realize that Ken had said that. What a sensible way to describe humility.

Thanks for the reference!

Wally Bock

And let us not forget Uriah Heep from Dickens' David Copperfield who says over and over, "I'm a very 'umble man, Mr. Copperfield. A very 'umble man."

Steve Roesler

Indeed, Wally. I think I remember Dickens jamming on the "Look At Yourself" LP, 1971.

Roger Anderson

I sat next to a fairly successful entrepreneur on a flight from New York to LA. The in-flight movie was Rounders, with Matt Damon. I am not a gambler so I expressed disinterest in the film but he suggested I watch it anyway. It was not so much to learn about the perils of getting in over your head as it was to see that the real pro players all "know" each other and usually have a good idea what cards the others are holding.

I think this same thing happens at work and in the rest of our lives. Other people know us. If you go to enough networking meetings you can easily spot the "service provider", the "novice entrepreneur", and the "fund-raiser" to name a few. We know what cards they hold. At work you can pretend all you want but people figure you out. It is better to be honest with them and yourself. I'm not saying we should not try to be better. I'm just saying we should try to be real.

Steve Roesler

Thanks for taking the time to add to the topic, Roger.

I like your straightforward way of describing the issue of just being real. My experience parallels yours. Over time, everyone in the office knows what we're all about. Why not just save the misspent energy that it takes to develop a facade and save everyone the time?

Hope to see you hear again...


I like this a lot Steve. Only after shedding all the things we and others think we are, can we really get to who we actually are.

A much lighter load of just the essentials to carry.

Steve Roesler


As an entrepreneur, you are probably well aware of this as a result of really needing to find out what is important and what isn't. It's so easy to start adding things when working to build a business--yet it's discovering and sticking with the essentials that make the difference, eh?


This discussion has compelled me to say"Great post. It reminds me of what Ken Blanchard says about humility, "Its not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.".



Wide Circles

Steve Roesler

Ken has a wonderful way with words animesh.

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