“Life is the most difficult examination. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realising that everyone has a different question paper” (Anon)

I have seen many copies and photographs of famous artists’ works during my life, but nothing compared to standing in front of an authentic Michelangelo or Rembrandt piece in the Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington DC some years ago or a Picasso or Van Gogh painting in other famous institutions. Somehow, experiencing the original work evoked different and perhaps special feelings – at times, giving me an exclusive “peep” into the artists’ lives – their respective challenges and victories. Although all were artists, each one had his/her own “script”; their own respective lives to lead. There may have been similarities in some respects (challenges or opportunities that present themselves to all humans), but all artists had to face their own circumstances to make something worthwhile out of their existence.  Not all were successful.

It seems that everyone has a different “life question paper”. Yes, there are principles that govern the answers, (like love, trustworthiness, honouring the dignity of the human being, respect, etc.), but not all answers come easily. Some of the questions that life asks of us almost seem unfair, certainly demanding and often puzzling. A few are downright tough!

An approach of authenticity is necessary if one is to answer life’s examination successfully – authenticity with the following:

  1. Authenticity with yourself – self-awareness in relation to who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, your personality, your values and levels of resolution in carrying out your goals. A well-integrated personality with corresponding self-knowledge, self-respect and self-belief has a greater possibility of pinpointing worthwhile goals and achieving them.
  2. Authenticity with others – a deep respect for the human being and the emotional intelligence to manage one’s own emotions and positively influence the emotional wellness of others. The act of caring goes a long way towards establishing meaningful relationships and positive collaboration partners.
  3. Authenticity with God – spiritual authenticity addresses the “meaning” category of life and fills the vacuum of peoples’ hearts.
  4. Authenticity with the environment – a comprehensive understanding of the fragility of the global environment, with corresponding behaviour that is respectful and sensitive.
  5. Authenticity with the customer – internal and external customers. From a business perspective, being real with internal and external customers grows trust and loyalty.

Life is the most difficult examination. It becomes particularly difficult, however, when selfish motives and other agendas drive behaviours. An authentic, perhaps selfless, approach is required to answer life’s questions successfully.

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