Whilst I was a contributing writer to the American magazine Personal Excellence I came across the work of another contributor to the magazine whose work has inspired and influenced over the years. If you have not read “An Invented Life” by Warren Bennis – go out a purchase a copy!
I have lost count the number of times I have shared the following quotation with clients which I found in his book.
“What I’m talking about is self-invention. Imagination. That’s basically how we get to know ourselves. People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out. Inventing oneself is the opposite of accepting the roles we were brought up to play.
It’s much like the distinction I made in my last book, On Becoming a Leader, between “once-borns” and “Twice-borns.” The once-born’s transition from home and family to independence is relatively easy. Twice-borns generally suffer as they grow up; they feel different, even isolated. Unsatisfied with life as it is, they write new lives for themselves. I’m one of those twice-born.
I believe in self-invention, have to believe in it, for reasons that will soon enough be clear. To be authentic is literally to be your own author (the words derive from the same Greek root), to discover your native energies and desires, and then to find your own way of acting on them. When you’ve done that, you are not existing simply to live up to an image posited by the culture, family tradition, or some other authority. When you write your own life, you have played the game that was natural for you to play. You have kept covenant with your own promise.”
So why not emerge from your cocoon to be the magnificent butterfly you are destined to become?