Someone once said,
“If you can’t be yourself, you are nobody”
Few have the courage or the conviction that they will be whom they wish to be – no matter if its the king or a pauper they are speaking to.
Talking of the courage to speak one’s mind, we cannot but think of the legendary meeting between the controversial Greek Cynic philosopher, Diogenes and Alexander the Great.
Diogenes, a brilliant philosopher (who was also the founder of the Cynic Philosophy) was known for his eccentric ways, like “looking for an honest man” in Athens in broad daylight with a lit lantern. He was a self-proclaimed citizen of the world and showed allegiance to no man, culture or race. He chose to lead a life of beggary and homelessness, believing that man’s existence is possible with the mere basics to survive.
Legend has it, that once Alexander went to see him and asked him if there was anything the young prince could do for him. To which Diogenes merely replied, that he would appreciate if Alexander moved aside so as to not block the sun.
Impressed with the philosopher’s fearless candor, Alexander is known to have stated his wish to be Diogenes had he not been a prince.
At a glance, the story may merely appear to be one where the moral is about being blunt at the risk of disregarding status and position in addressing another. It is also a thought-provoking reflection of leadership – only a true leader would respect a person who treats all with the same sincerity rather than be pretentious.
Our assumptions, beliefs and value system play a crucial role in how authentic and genuine we truly are. Many choose to behave differently with people while interacting with them, keeping in mind their profession, wealth, status in society and of course what they require from them.
The manner we treat others is interestingly, a reflection of our confidence too. To possess this level of confidence is possible by tirelessly working towards improving ourselves. As we improve and grow, so will our confidence grow with us. Our perception of ourselves is always affected by what we believe is the absence of certain desired qualities. This creates an unhealthy vacuum, that invariably coaxes us to forget who we truly are when we are with somebody.
Acquisition of knowledge and the focus on progress and growth, furthermore, enables us to lead the desirable life that we wish to. Pursuing a life of learning infused with harmony, well-being accompanied by a positive desire to help others, will motivate us to be more genuine and less pretentious. The frivolous pursuit of impressing others and seeking the acceptance from others merely takes us away from matters that actually need our attention and effort.
On a deeper level, being ourselves forces us to take a hard look at our flaws, work on them or accept them. The difference is that, when we are neither apologetic for who we are and neither pompous about who we are, we look at the world differently.
We will also have less inclination to judge others since we have no interest to be judged.
Live and Let Live!