Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Authenticity and Courage

I am redesigning my website. I want it to look professional, authentic, and inspiring. A colleague asks me what authentic means to me. Me at my most vulnerable, me at my best, me at my worst?

Haha…! Funny question!

Is it? … Maybe not so much. Authentic is not just me at my most cutest, vulnerable, my most delightful.

Authentic is also me in the middle of a fight with my husband, having judgmental thoughts about others, or seeing my poochy belly hanging out of my t-shirt.

I am pretty sure I don’t want any of that on my website. I want the me at my most lovable best. Me worthy of love, acceptance, and belonging.

Certainly not the me that might trigger criticism. Not the me that might prompt people to turn away, or turn against. Certainly not any part of me that might trigger being alone, all by myself.

When I consider the parts of me I want to keep private, I start thinking of the times when fear of rejection stopped me from living my truest dreams: my longing to go to theater school, to tell the first love of my life I had a crush on him, or to pursue publication of my first children’s story.

When I sit with this fear of rejection, I wonder if courage means taking a social risk and still doing what I believe is true? Maybe courage doesn’t mean risking my life to help war victims in Syria, or offering myself to replace the inmate on death row just before his execution.

Maybe my courage lies in holding on to my vegan diet, even if others find it weird. Or calling upon my co-mediators in the lunch meetup to recycle their plastic plates, instead of throwing them away. Or repelling from a cliff with a terrifying fear of heights, with guys I’d never met before.

What if authenticity means living your deepest aspirations, even if you might face negative consequences? Would my answer to my colleague be that authenticity means being true to my values, living them in everyday life?

Courage and authenticity seem interrelated, especially if we’re not sure we’ll face an empathetic, accepting response. So my questions to you are:

  • What means authenticity to you?
  • How is courage connected to authenticity?
  • What comes up for you?

Let me know, I would love to read your response.

Veganism is an act of courage and rebellion

Image courtesy to

The Rebel © Osho Zen Tarot

“The rebel: His very being is rebellious – not because he is fighting against anybody or anything, but because he has discovered his own true nature and is determined to live in accordance with it. (…) The rebel challenges us to be courageous enough to take responsibility for who we are and to live our truth.” (Osho Zen Tarot Cards, Rebel)

Will Tuttle describes veganism as one of the most rebellious acts we can take, because we break with our conditioning what it means to be human, to live in community. Veganism challenges the idea that we are omnivores, that we are born and meant to kill other living beings in order to be healthy and strong. Veganism challenges the idea that barbecuing, roasting, and stuffing slaughtered animals is an essential part of our culture of celebration. Veganism challenges our belief that doing what others are doing and going with the flow, ‘being easy’, is a condition for belonging, acceptance, and harmony.

I’m noticing I’m getting judgmental of anyone who rather buys cheap hamburgers than take the time to learn about the lives and deaths of their food. I ‘m getting judgmental of anyone who doesn’t have the guts to watch a documentary, go to the slaughterhouse, or kill their food themselves. I have the guts to cut off a tomato, dig up a potato, pluck an apple. You want to eat pork? Raise and kill the pigs yourselves.

Ten years ago I was judgmental of vegans. I remember when my friends and I went out for dinner. There were 12 of us, so it was a hassle to write down everyone’s order. When it was Paul’s turn, the whole process slowed down. “Do you have soup?” “Yes, we do.” “Is it made of animal products?” “Well, we can take out the meatballs, and you’ll never notice they were in it.” No, that didn’t work for Paul. “Well, we have cheese, that doesn’t require the killing of animals.” No, that doesn’t work either. It was made of the inner lining of calf stomach. Gosh, Paul, can’t you just order what we eat? No, Paul decided to stick with a salad. What a kill joy.

In retrospect, I admire Paul. He stood up for his principles and his truth, even though he must have heard my non-verbal criticism loud and clear. He wasn’t making a fuzz at all, he wasn’t proclaiming he was right, and we were wrong. He honored whom he was, and the natural choices that followed his being. A rebellion doesn’t fight anyone or anything. A rebellion decides that society has conditioned her long enough. Now it’s time to decide for herself whom to be and what to do. A rebel follows her own heart. That’s courage.


You want help to follow your own heart? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Fully wanting to be you

Image courtesy to Flickr“It takes courage to love yourself. It is easier to hate yourself. To always want to improve and change for the better. To never be satisfied with who you are right here, right now. But to fully say ‘yes’ to whatever is here, your anger, your fear of failure, your striving for perfection, that takes courage. You’re trembling in the nakedness of your honesty and you’re fully wanting to be you. I’m fully wanting to be me. Yes, that takes courage.”

I’m in awe with my client. I’m not sure if I have the courage to be fully wanting to be me. I rather be someone else. Happier. More successful. Less jealous. I’m pretty sure I’m fully wanting to be my future self, an improved version of me. Less needy, more lovable.

I’m in awe with my client, and her choice to unconditionally love and accept herself.

I’m in awe with my client and her choice to say ‘yes’ to who she is in this moment.

She reminds me of the ferryman in Herman Hesse’s Siddharta. He doesn’t do much. He tends his garden, he enjoys the sun, he takes people to the other side of the river. Hardly anyone recognize in him the Buddha, the Enlightened One. Hardly anyone even look at him. They just want to get to the other shore, and he is taking them. He is an instrument to their purpose, and as such not very interesting.

I have always been impressed with that courage. To just live your life, not doing much, not striving for acknowledgment, validation, reassurance of your worth. And fully enjoying being alive. Gosh, if I only would have that solidity in me, that groundedness, that self-confidence.

I giggle. That seems like a contradictio in terminis. Wanting to be someone else, so I can fully want to be me.

Hum. Maybe I could start wanting to be me with all my striving for love, acceptance and belonging?


You want help to fully want to be you? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be excited to help you on the path of unconditional self-acceptance.