An Introduction to Authenticity--
A Simple Life Lesson Far Too Often Forgotten
One of the cruelest aspects of human nature is that far too often we judge someone or something based on appearance. No matter how enlightened we may perceive ourselves to be, each and every one of us is guilty of doing this. At its core this behavior is written in our DNA; however, those most intuitive among us have learned not to formulate these kinds of assumptions. They are counterproductive, to put it as simply as possible. “Never judge a book by its cover” is something you learn early on in grade school, it’s inherently negative to do so, but sadly and ironically even the best of us can forget this simple childhood lesson throughout the course of our lives.

One Of The Best Gifts I’ve Ever Been Given
Almost five years ago now I was given one of the best ‘gifts’ I have ever received. It was during the Holiday season while I was at a Border’s Bookstore. Life had thrown me numerous challenging conflicts that year, and this day in particular I was emotionally spent and far from having the empowering frame of mind that drives me toward success in all facets of my life.

I had gone there in search of inspirational reading material for myself, as well as to give as gifts to family members and dear friends. Several books were under my arm including Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit, which strives to help you find your voice and inspire others to find theirs. This highly motivating and positive book is also emblazoned with the subtitle From Effectiveness to Greatness.

As I walked across the store a confident woman’s voice called out in my direction, “You’re already great!” In all honesty, my mind having been burdened with my personal troubles, I was caught off guard. One usually doesn’t expect to hear such resoundingly positive statements in the middle of the afternoon while shopping in a retail store. I glanced over in the direction where her voice had come from and instantly became noticeably uncomfortable. With the book clearly visible in my hand, she seemed to be reassuring me, as if I had no need for such a title, as I was already, in her eyes, great.

Now right at that moment those uplifting words should have been enough for me; after all, my life’s work has been dedicated to achieving one’s true inner potential and total wellness. One of my many points of pride is my ability to see clearly where most lack even the slightest hint of vision. But as I took her in I hesitated, failing to heed one of the many lessons from childhood which adults often overlook. For you see, this woman’s face reminded me of those of the leper community I had seen on a trip to India just a few years before.

She was wrapping holiday gifts for the store with a bright and lively smile. Her clothing was impeccable. Her entire demeanor radiated confidence. As I strained against my better judgment, my body language without a doubt had initially insulted her. In what seemed like forever but must have really only been several seconds (though painfully long as they were), I mustered up the courage to approach her gift wrapping table. I wanted and needed to acknowledge her beautiful comment.

As I walked toward her she repeated herself, “You’re already great,” looking right into my eyes with a warm gaze. She glanced at the Stephen Covey book and asked me directly, “Why that book—don’t you know you are already great?”

Given the nature of everything I’ve dedicated my life to; I found it extremely unusual that the right words to give this kind soul eluded me at that utterly important moment. All I was able to do was decline her offer to wrap the book, as I was now unsure if I would buy it—even though it was meant for a good friend I knew was a fan of the work and would surely enjoy receiving it.

The Lesson
As I walked away I was thunderstruck by this simple yet powerful interaction. This woman, who must have seen far more than her fair share of hardships, heartaches and failures in this life, was so certain of herself and her message to me. Before leaving the store I was compelled to turn and watch her for the last few fleeting moments that I would ever see her. She engaged customers with an ease and genuine friendliness that is becoming more and more rare these days. Moments passed fluidly as she brightened the day of those she spoke with. I was captivated; there is no better way to put it. I knew right then and there that the inspiration I was searching for that day wasn’t on any bookshelf in the entire store, or any others for that matter. It was standing right there at the gift wrapping table, assured and content in her every waking breath. This woman was the embodiment of everything I’ve ever strived for in my life. I left in complete admiration of her.

As the next few hours passed this incredible moment made me ponder the true power of the conversations that we have with ourselves every single day. What do you say when you talk to yourself? When you take a step back and think about, it really is one of the most compelling questions people can ask themselves. The answer not only defines your actions, in a very real way it composes who you are.

I’d like for you now to take a moment and let that profound statement sink in…

For me on this particular day, I began to think about how often we’re so overly concerned with appearances, and how for many this contradicts the reality of who we really are. Why does what someone or something looks like initially make you draw myriad conclusions, which more than likely have no basis in reality?

In addition, I also began to think about the challenge most people face in being their true self on a consistent basis. Why do most of us wear masks in so many facets of our life? Do we do so for our occupation, to not offend family members and friends, or are some of us just pretending to be that which we are not? Naturally these questions lead too many others, the first of which being, where does one get to be completely true to themselves?

Authenticity-The Key Daily Objective
The experience that day spurred me focus on authenticity as a key daily objective throughout all of life. “To thine own self be true” is the most famous quote from Shakespeare’s most famous play for a reason. The lesson I learned that day can and must be applied as often as possible if you are to make the most out of ALL the possibilities that life offers you.

Author's Bio: 

About James McPartland
In my present work I am an author, international speaker, and ‘wellness ambassador’ focused on developing the human potential within business. My experience includes serving as an investor, board member, and president of a leading global fitness manufacturing company. That work, and my present business at ‘The JMac Performance Group’ has allowed me to play a leadership role in the health and fitness industry for more than twenty years.

Elements of my pursuit have found me studying the lifestyle trends and cultural views of wellness in over sixty countries. This has led to a robust consulting practice developing healthy people - thus leading to a healthy, innovative, and more profitable business.

Much of my current business advisory and speaking activity demonstrates a philosophy we call ‘Crosstraining for Life’™. New research has been introduced this year that focuses on uncovering the potential that lies within a company - through work developing the potential of the people employed inside the business.

About The JMac Performance Group
A ‘Human Performance Company’ dedicated to improving the health and profitability of a company by unlocking the potential of its employees. Business and people development consulting is cultivated through seminars, workshops, and executive retreats.

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