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By Michael Angier


Authenticity and Originality

I have a theory as to why REAL political leaders seem in such short supply.

Politicians have at their disposal an abundance of opinion polls. Instead of someone who aspires to high office speaking his or her own mind, they speak what they think is the mind of the voters. They want to be sure that what they have to offer is politically popular or at least not politically unpopular.

In days of old, there were no speechwriters—our leaders wrote their own. You could pretty much count on what someone was saying as being their own beliefs. Now, you never know if what a speaker is saying is their own or some clever words crafted by a witty speechwriter.

It’s extremely rare to find someone willing to share his or her own thoughts or who has much to offer in the way of original thinking. Most of today’s so-called leaders lack authenticity, and people sense it.

Winston Churchill once said, “The people cannot look up to a leader who has his ear to the ground”. Leaders by definition should LEAD not follow.

Originality and individuality are two of the hallmarks of true leadership. I don’t have to agree with someone in order to respect them as a leader. If they feel strongly about something and I get that they truly believe in what they’re saying, I’ll at least listen intently and consider seriously what they have to say.

When someone’s telling the truth—speaking from the heart with strong feeling—it’s almost impossible to be bored.

There’s a Bible phrase that I’ve found easy to remember: “Be hot or cold, but if you be lukewarm, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

Strong words, indeed. What I get from it is, be one way or the other. Being middle-of-the-road doesn’t work. The guy who gets my attention is the one who feels strongly about something. The one who has an original approach has the makings of a leader.

When we mouth the words of someone else or speak what we think others want to hear, we relinquish our power. We just add more noise to the world. When we speak from the heart with strong feeling and our own thinking, we stand out from the crowd.

Think of the art world. Which has more value, the original painting or the reproduction? The original, of course.

Reproductions don’t even come close to equaling the value of the original. There can only be one original painting and there is only one original you. It’s up to each of us to uncover and develop our originality and uniqueness. In doing so, we have more to offer.

Our society tends to promote sameness and commonness. Our schools do their best to make us conform and become more and more like the others. The free spirit is often ostracized. Our employers and our coworkers don’t encourage our being different. Often, our attempt to be humble actually thwarts our specialness. And yet almost everything in us cries out to be different and special.

The word “original” comes from the root word origin. And origin is the thing from which anything comes, the starting point or source. Thus, cultivating our originality is only a matter of going back to whence we came—our spirit or God-force.

We may all come from the same source, but we all express our originality in different ways. It’s up to us to discover our own uniqueness, or own inner splendor. Only in doing so will we actualize our true potential and affect our purpose in the world.

A Related Article
Top Ten Reasons to Live a Life of Integrity
Why is a life of integrity the exception rather than the rule? Some practical and worthwhile reasons for living an impeccable life.

Is Your Company The Real McCoy?
How many businesses do you know that come across as the genuine article? A great deal of time, energy and resources is spent trying to be something we're not. Being yourself isn't just a good thing to do, it's good business. Michael Angier makes his case for being the genuine article.



“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for the better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Last Updated 02/21/2004