A few days ago, I was in the grocery store. It was mid-day, so there were a lot of moms and kids around. And one of those kids, whom I estimated to be a bit shy of two years old, threw a loud, dramatic and protracted fit when his mom denied him a candy bar he wanted. His wails and screams could be heard throughout the store. And yet, as annoying as the child’s temper-tantrum was, I also recognized that he was, in a sense, just being 2. He was also, arguably, being “authentic.” No fronts, no editing, no impulse control, no “shoulds” involved. Throwing temper tantrums is what 2-year olds do, when they don’t get what they want. It’s highly annoying, but it’s also (big sigh from all parents of toddlers) age-appropriate behavior. At that stage.

I tell this story because one of the big surprises I’ve discovered in researching a book on the power and importance of an authentic voice is that there is a lot of confusion about what, exactly, “being authentic” means.

In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times Week in Review section, for example, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania argued, in a piece called “‘Be Yourself’ is Terrible Advice” that “nobody wants to see your true self.”

The professor, Adam Grant, went on to cite the story of a writer who’d done an experiment, a decade or so ago, by trying to be “totally authentic” for several weeks. Important to note, here, is that being “authentic, in that writer’s mind, evidently consisted of behaving very much like the character Jim Carrey played in the film Liar Liar. (In that film, Carrey is put under a spell where he has to be completely, brutally-and audibly–honest for 24 hours, saying everything he thinks out loud, no matter how inappropriate or hurtful or damaging those thoughts or words are.) You can imagine the results of the writer’s experiment. [click to continue…]

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Every now and then, I hear from readers who are wondering what I’m doing, now that I’ve retired my “Flying Lessons” aviation column. The answer is, I’m currently researching a book I hope to have completed by the end of the year.

The book is about the power and importance of an authentic voice: why it matters, what it can accomplish, and how to find it, nurture it, protect it, and bring it into the world in a meaningful way. It might seem that this is a big departure from flying adventures, but it’s not, really.

I called my column “Flying Lessons,” because I’d come to the conclusion fairly early in my flying and adventure career that the biggest reason I valued the challenges and experiences it entailed wasn’t the “whoo hoo” adrenaline high of physical feats. It was what all those adventures and challenges taught me about myself, other humans, life, living, and the world. And the biggest lessons all my adventures taught me were always about myself. My true self. Where my limits and strengths and talents lay, and what experiences resonated most strongly with things I valued–or discovered I valued –at my core. And if I was a blissfully happy woman for all the years I spent exploring the world and writing about it in my column and other articles, it was because that writing allowed me to bring that ever-evolving authentic self and voice into the world in a way that contributed something of value.

In other words, the single biggest lesson that all my adventures and experiences over the past 27 years has taught me is the power and importance of finding my authentic core and voice, learning how to hear and be guided by it, and then figuring out a way to bring that voice into the world, in ways that had a meaningful impact others, and gave me both joy and a sense of fulfillment. [click to continue…]

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Switching Jobs to Avoid Alzheimer’s

by Lane Wallace

I‘m thrilled that more and more study is being devoted to evaluating the impact of elements such as passion, purpose, meaning and having and expressing an authentic voice in our lives … even if the results often seem like a statement of the obvious. It seems almost self-evident, for example, that people who feel more [...]

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The Risks of Entrepreneurship: Silver Linings 2

by Lane Wallace

A few posts ago, I discussed a new study that concluded that people who attempt an entrepreneurial venture end up better off financially, regardless of whether the venture succeeds or fails. (The theory being you learn from the experience and return to a salaried job smarter and savvier, even if your self-employment doesn’t pan out.)
Well, [...]

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Passion, Resiliency, and Cam Newton’s Super Bowl Performance

by Lane Wallace

Say what you will about the NFL, or professional football, I love the Super Bowl. Every year, the game manages to produce some applicable nugget or insight of leadership, passion, or life. After all, if nothing else, the Super Bowl is unquestionably leadership and passion played out on a high-stress, high-stakes stage, in front of [...]

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An Explorer’s View on the Death of Henry Worsley

by Lane Wallace

I set out, last week, to write a post on the death of Henry Worsley–a 55-year old retired British Army officer who was attempting to be the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided. An ill and exhausted Worsley gave up the quest a mere 30 miles from his goal, after a journey of [...]

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Why Trying an Entrepreneurial Venture May Not Be As Risky As You Think

by Lane Wallace

“Why Doesn’t Everybody…”?
For years, I have joked about this iconic question, usually posed by innocent people who do not have any first-hand experience with the (fill-in-the-blank) topic they’re asking about. Lane’s rule of thumb: If everybody doesn’t do something … whether it’s start their own business, renovate their own house, or own a polished-aluminum airplane [...]

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Are Mid-Life Crises Inevitable?

by Lane Wallace

I began my new year (the 7th one writing this blog!) with the unexpected treat of dinner with two friends I’ve known since I was 12 years old. In truth, they are the only friends I’ve known since I was 12. But I know I’m lucky to still have something in common and keep in [...]

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Intrinsic Gifts in an Imperfect World

by Lane Wallace

The holiday season, as delightful as all the lights and decorations are, can actually be a tough time to feel happy, because we’re bombarded on all sides with images of “perfect” lives and holidays–and we humans, it turns out, depend quite heavily on comparing our lives with others when we decide how happy we are. [...]

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Misunderstanding Passion

by Lane Wallace

Anyone who’s read much of my work knows that I’m a big believer in the power of passion. I’ve even began researching a book on the topic (it’s in the queue, after I finish my current project on the power and importance of voice).
Having said that, I’m also well aware that the word “passion” is [...]

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