This is not the first or last time I’m going to write about being true to yourself. Why? Because I see so many people struggling with this fundamental life skill and it seems it’s a lot easier to talk about than to actually apply in practice. It fascinates me not only as an outsider, or observer, but because I have no doubt that I have also suffered from this dilemma. Okay, so let’s take a view on this. I seriously believe that most of us don’t really know who we really are. Well not completely that is. And because of these gaps in our own self awareness, I think it goes without saying that we’re bound to act a little falsely at times. Kevin Cashman wrote in his book “Leadership from the inside out”, that the essence of leadership was authentic self expression that created value. Apart from struggling with the question for some twenty years, Cashman truly discovered the need to be true to himself. In fact at some point he talks of an executive who admitted that for many years he thought his power came from being right, but discovered that it was actually based on his ability to be real. What an amazing revelation. How many of us chase the perfect answer? How often do we find ourselves caught up in the need to be right and to be seen to have solved the problem or come up with the better solution? Let’s face it that sounds like a normal working environment. Who can honestly be blamed for pursuing those goals? The truth is that business forces us to participate according to a set of rules that may not be completely aligned with who we are. For those that find themselves in jobs where everything is about what the company can get out of you, there will always be a sense that something is missing. This is simply because you cannot ignore your own inner needs and ideologies forever. At some point you will need to pay attention to your inner voice. Well, that’s if you have one that’s loud enough! Just the other day I was asking job applicants how they would be able to reconcile loyalty to a company with the need to be true to themselves. The number of people who struggled with this question surprised me. Most didn’t know what I meant, and I had to explain it in more detail. You see, I believe loyalty and truth do not always work well together. The danger of loyalty is that it can become “blind loyalty”. So much so, that truth can be suppressed. There are enough company scandals out there for us to realise that people are prepared to live a lie, rather than face up to the truth, just to protect the organisation they are in. Okay that might be a little too far off the mark for this discussion, but it does raise the question of “how far are we prepared to go to show our loyalty, when deep down we may feel uneasy about the direction we are taking?” Call it your conscience or simply that little voice. But you had better start paying attention to it soon cause it may be the only way of getting yourself back on track and onto the path that you originally wanted to follow when you set out in your career. Now for those that are either looking for a new job or perhaps finding employment for the first time, the question is just as important. How true are you going to be to yourself when you sit in an interview, and try and impress someone to land a job? You’d be amazed at how many people make haphazard career choices, where I know deep down, they have not even begun to contemplate what the change in job might have on them personally. I again experienced this the other day sitting in an interview. The candidate was asked to explain why they had chosen the particular company as a potential new employer. The person, who was fairly senior, could not give a coherent answer. There was no connection between how they saw themselves, and what the organisation would offer. There was no authentic decision making. It was simply a hit and miss approach to finding a new job. Listen, I know it sounds idealistic, but you do have a choice. Even if the company you are lining up or the job you are trying to get is not your perfect scenario, you should still listen to what your inner voice is saying. At least this will clue you in on how much pain and resistance you may experience. You owe it to yourself. Are you going to be the real deal, or are you happy faking it forever?