“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” (May Sarton)
Masquerade balls, costumed public festivities originating in Venice, Italy, were historically elaborate dances arranged for members of the upper classes. Amazingly colored dresses, wigs, make up, masques – up-lifting extravagant for the bold and the beautiful. Nothing wrong with that as long as “nemo dat quod non habet”? Or should life be lived in escapism? Some of us do. Escaping reality can sometimes be easier than facing the hard facts of life. We either adjust to existing circumstances, or try to change our realities through personal activities. It is not always possible, due to external influences. However good a person you are, if evil forces are oppressing the life you would have the right to live, there is not much else to do than escape in order to save your life. Run or die. This is the unfortunate situation of all refugees worldwide, the number of which is higher than ever, despite the efforts made by multiple national and international organizations to improve conditions on our planet.
According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the total number of persons seeking protection within or outside the borders of their countries rose up to almost six (6) million people in 2013. Forced by conflicts, more than 1,5 million people e.g. from the Syrian Arab Republic, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mali, were seeking refuge. (UNHCR Mid-Year Trends 2013 report. Quoted 23.6.2014).
What can we do to help and to support these people? For many of us it is really difficult, despite or maybe because of, all the media and information overload that we are surrounded by today. Truth is that without local and international media, most of us would not acknowledge at all what is happening in the world surrounding our personal lives. Most of us read at least one printed newspaper every day, or online news, in addition to watching the news on television. The reality is served to us, thrown upon our faces, through diverse media channels. Yet, most feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything about the cruel facts we hear about, and see every day. Silent acceptance or just fear of not knowing what to do and how to help?
Instead of blaming anyone, it might be helpful to realize that helping is always easiest locally. Problems exist everywhere, in every country, regardless of the fact that some regions seem to be affected much worse than others. If we don’t ́t know how to be there for our neighbors, relatives, friends, in times of trouble, how can we be capable of solving problems in lands far away?
I am one of those people who agrees with the fact that problems must be solved locally, with external aid. But how can problems be solved in a country where radicalism flourishes and evil forces seem to dominate?
What has this all have to with authentic leadership? Just about everything.
An authentic leader, anyone of us, understands that life is not an ongoing party. Authenticity, in its deepest significance, is the capability of seeing things as they really are. Authentic people do not pretend to be something else but themselves, nor are they easily influenced by outside forces.
Authentic leaders step forward when everyone else seems to be stepping back. Authentic leaders truly care about helping others. Authentic people have the capability of interconnecting their mind with their heart and integrating both into their daily lives and into their leadership style.
A good example of a truly authentic leader is the current head of state in Uruguay, José Mujica, also described as the world’s poorest president due to the fact that he donates 90 percent of his monthly salary to charities benefiting poor people and small entrepreneurs. Exemplary. Mujica has also granted protection to 100 Syrian children by accommodating them in Uruguay. Not a high number taking into consideration the total number of two million Syrian refugees, nonetheless better than nothing, and far better than any country has proved to help so far. Overflowing with Syrian refugees, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon each currently “accommodate” several hundred thousand of them. (Yahoo News. UN applauds Uruguay ́s plan to take Syrian refugees. 21.5.2014. Quoted 23.6.2014).
Tips for increasing authenticity in your life:
– Be yourself. Do some introspection, on a daily basis. Listen to your spirit, meditate, and be at peace with yourself. We all need to start with ourselves. After all, if we cannot be at peace with ourselves, how can we be at peace with others?
– Be genuine. Don’t be afraid of taking off your “mask”.
– Accept yourself as you are, and others will accept you too. Those who do not accept you as you truly are, are not worth your time and do not belong in your life.
– Don’t ́t be afraid of being vulnerable. There is a crack in everything – that is how the light gets in.
– Work on yourself only. Trying to change others is forceful and useless. Be the change you want to see in the world. As soon as you are successful at mastering yourself, things will start falling into place.
– Be loving and kind. Remember – what you send out to the universe, echoes back into your life.
– Don’t try to please everyone.
– Learn how to listen to your intuition.
– Use your mind, but lead with your heart.
– Don’t try to change your whole life at once. Even if you do so, remember that small good acts are signs of improvement too.
– Face your fears, it is worth it. This does not mean you need to become reckless – safety before all – but try to move your boundaries at least every now and then.
– Breathe. Relax. Listen to your favorite music. Eat balanced. Sleep enough. Daydream.
“Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are individuals of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away”.
– Admiral James B. Stockdale