Sincerity, Authenticity and the Hero’s Journey

I’ve been thinking about sincerity and authenticity lately, particularly after watching the recent Tiger Woods monologue.   Before he came on I wondered how I would feel as he offered his mea culpa. When he spoke, I watched him closely, listening and hoping to be moved.  (I see Tiger on what Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist and author, calls the Hero’s Journey.  The Hero’s Journey is the archetypal story of what happens after someone falls into crisis and begins the process of recovery, learning and redemption.) I wanted to be moved because I felt if Tiger leads with his heart then healing is possible, for all parties involved.

I heard what he had to say and I wasn’t moved at all.  It felt staged, scripted, and controlled.  He had the right words, with little behind them. Maybe his emotion was buried beneath the embarrassment of having to stand before his friends and the world and admit he had a problem. (The only visible emotion that I did see was anger he directed at the media.) It really left me questioning his sincerity and authenticity.

What is authenticity?  I spent some time researching it. In psychology, authenticity refers to the attempt to live one’s life in alignment with the needs of one’s inner being, rather than the expectations of others and society.  In light of his comment about a return to Buddhism, perhaps Tiger is discovering what his inner needs really are right now and is more focused on discovering his own personal truth than being able to fully express it.

The dictionary defines authenticity as the “quality of being genuine or trustworthy”.  Genuine means sincerely felt or expressed.  Sincerity means being open and truthful.

Who judges sincerity, authenticity or genuineness?  If I am looking for a leather jacket for example, I can feel the leather and perhaps look for the label that says “Genuine Leather”.  I judge for myself if I believe it’s real.  If it is, then I think I have found the “real McCoy”, the real thing.

So, was Tiger the “real McCoy” for me?  No.  Was Tiger the “real McCoy” in his own mind?  Only he knows.  I believe he is on his own Hero’s Journey where he has to come to terms with his own inner demons before he can really face the world with full authenticity.  I’m hoping he digs really deep and is able to understand what he needs to do to emerge a truly authentic man.

About Don Johnson

Don Johnson, the Founder and President of the Integria Group, LLC, has over 25 years of experience in business management, leadership, sales and consulting in the performance improvement industry. He founded the Integria Group after being a Principal Consultant with Axialent. He has worked extensively with executives at Google, YouTube, Yahoo! AXA USA, Crowe Horwath, The Jamaican Ministry of Defense, The United States Federal Court System and Allinial Global helping them develop their leadership skills and their business effectiveness. Don was formerly the US Director of Sales for Insights for 5 years helping lead the business to record growth and also worked at Achieve Global, a leading international training and consulting firm, holding many positions, including Regional Director and later Regional Vice President. For five years, he managed a 30-person, $15 million business unit, leading his organization through the post-merger integration of three consulting companies. After completing his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in English Literature, Don started his career at Élan Vital, an international non-profit organization that promotes the work of Prem Rawat. A member of the Élan Vital management team from a young age, Don was appointed President of the corporation in 1980 and held the position for four years. He is a competitive tennis player, plays guitar and writes and records music. He lives in Tayport, Scotland, a small village on the North Sea.
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