“The Problem With Authenticity” – February 2015 Harvard Business Review

A February 2015 Harvard Business Review article is entitled “The Problem With Authenticity: When it’s OK to fake it till you make it.”

I enjoy reading articles in the Harvard Business Review. The research on which the articles are based appears to be of value. The relationship of HBR to the 1% that will soon own half of the world’s wealth, according to an Oxfam report, is also of interest.

The topic of “authenticity” brings to mind, for me, the work of the Canadian writer and philosopher, Charles Taylor, who has also commented upon the origins of instrumental reason, which in turn brings to mind discussions about the meaning of human existence.

A discussion about any of these topics – authenticity, instrumental reason, the meaning of life – also brings to mind the concept that what we call the “self” or “personality” is not something that is solid and fixed in time. We change with the passage of time.

This a delightful feature of a 1960s high school reunion. We meet again, years later. Our physical forms are different. Our minds are different. Our senses of self are different as well. Yet we are also the same people that we were in high school.

Let me revise that. Our brains are capable of changing, through the process of neuroplasticity – a topic highlighted in a Jan. 23, 2015 Globe and Mail article entitled: “Rewired: Learning to tame a noisy brain. (Or, how you can use the power of neuroplasticity).” To that extent, one can be a person who may be quite a bit different than the person who attended high school.

What is your sense of self?

The Harvard Business Review overview can be summed up in the following quotation (p. 55 of the above-noted article):

When we view authenticity as an unwavering sense of self, we struggle to take on new challenges and bigger roles. The reality is that people learn – and change – who they are through experience.

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