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Wednesday, 10 September 2014


was at a conference this past weekend in the beautiful Cape town of Arniston.  It is a maritime law conference I've attended annually for most of the past 24 years.  Although there has been a significant turnover in conference delegates, there are still a few left who were delegates when I made my first appearance back in 1990.

It is a maritime law conference which I have attended annually for most of the past 24 years.  And those who are still around after all this time haven't changed much.  Some are there to party, drink and eat as much as they can, seem to care nothing for their health, are happy simply to chat about superficial aspects of their lives and I suppose will drop dead prematurely one day and be surprised at the moment of reckoning.  Then there are the out-and-out academic types who live for the careers they've chosen, make a massive contribution to the law but somehow seem to be allowing the rest of Life to pass them by as they ponder on the latest changes to a particular statute.  One or two delegates are completely predictable in their unpredictability and maverick approach to his life.  Then there are those who are as constant as the day.  Some appear always to be trying to prove how valuable they are, and so on.  Different as everyone is, the interesting thing is how consistent they have all been over the years in how they present themselves to the world.  And that seems to be what marketers might call their 'brand'.

Everyone chooses a brand for him- or herself: the playboy, the nerd, the depressive,the hail-fellow-well-met, the enlightened one, the maverick, the happy-go-lucky, the indestructible, the wimp, the intransigent, the class clown, the-Life-is-serious-and-then-you-die, the optimist, the prover, the pessimist and so on.  Much of it is just dramatic behaviour, people choosing to act as if they are less than they truly are or trying to prove they are more than they are.  The reason a particular persona is chosen is that it serves a greater purpose in some way or another.  The purpose might be to hide away so that you never need to take a risk, or to present yourself as permanently and inordinately happy, so that you need never share a lingering sadness or show any vulnerability, or to be pessimistic about everything so that you need never risk feeling disappointed, or to be glum most of the time in order to garner sympathy.  

However, what the choice of brand can also result in is us never getting to discover who we actually are.  We walk around trying so hard to be something else that eventually we start believing that we actually are the thing we're trying to project and forget our true essence.

And the truth is that there is no good reason to play small, or to try and prove things about ourselves or to pretend to be anything other than exactly who we are in our magnificent authenticity, because it's hard keeping up a lifetime of pretense in order to avoid being found out as the perfect, vulnerable human beings we actually are.

The invitation is to choose the authentic, natural and constant brand from which your humanity, authenticity and lovability can simply shine through. Is that what you're doing?  If not, why not and what are you really afraid of?

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