<<< Back to: Leadership DevelopmentAuthenticity: The Pudding of Congruence.
Buzzwords come and go in the fields of leadership and personal development. ‘Mindfulness’ is the latest word to slip into blog titles and development memes. ‘Authenticity’ is another word doing the rounds as authors play with its role connecting leaders to a higher calling. Yet strangely, there is a word that is powerfully connected to authenticity that is missing. As the strong undercurrent, this word lends purpose and force to authenticity. This word is Congruence.
The tired truck driver battles to keep his eighteen wheeler rig between the lines on the highway. Controlling the sway and wandering is made difficult by the fact that one trailer wheel is flat and the general alignment is out. Besides the expense and increased wear and tear on the vehicle, misaligned wheels are dangerous. The vehicle will not run true as wayward wheels pull it in all directions, making safe handling difficult. The driver must be alert and quick to correct the vehicle’s drifting ways. This works when the driver is fresh and focused, but becomes risky as the hours and miles slip by.
Keeping our lives on track is made difficult by external (and sometimes – internal) influences. These external influences include money, time and others expectation. Some of the internal factors include beliefs and self confidence. Most people set out full of passion, an inspiring vision and clear goals. People pull on to life’s highway full of energy and expectation. They travel straight and true until life’s influences start to add pressure. People slow down, wander and drift as the fatigue creeps in and wheel alignment slips out. Each new situation brings its own influencer to challenge our vision, daring us to stay true to what we desire. The risk to our authenticity rises as each mile passes, as each new challenger gets us to take our eyes off the road.
After travelling on life’s highway for a while we may need a forensic detective to match our current path of travel to our original vision and goals. Yes, I am aware that we need to adjust our aim and approach once in a while and we may have to take the occasional detour, but for most the frustration is that our lives don’t produce what we were expecting, what we were hoping for. Somewhere along the relentless highway we lose track of our purpose and turn our focus on trying to make ends meet. We can’t really identify when the change happened, because there was no single defining moment that altered our course. Each little event challenges us to be authentic to who we really are, or sacrifice our true selves for a simpler life conforming to the norms and standards of the highway code, making it easier to fit in with the flow of traffic.
As the truck driver will pull off the road and stop at a wheel alignment centre, so we must pull off and check that our system is aligned. We need to test congruence between the three major components of achievement: vision, goals and behaviour. The word congruence is defined in Wikipedia as: Congruence (symbol: ≅) is the state achieved by coming together, the state of agreement. The Latin congruō meaning “I meet together, I agree”. As an abstract term, congruence means similarity between objects. Congruence, as opposed to approximation, is a relation which implies a species of equivalence. In essence we want our behaviour to say - I agree with and am in line with the goals. We want our goals to say – I agree with and am in line with the vision. Ultimately our success will be determined by how congruent our vision is to our hearts desires.
Aligning our behaviour to our goals, which in turn are aligned to our vision, will earn us the stamp of ‘authenticity to self.’ I am told that the proof o the pudding is in the eating. The proof of authenticity is enjoying the delicious flavour of congruence.
Other Blog Posts on Authenticity: