The importance of remaining true to yourself

Yarik Mishin/
Yarik Mishin/

In my fledgling journalism career I’ve had the opportunity to interview some people who have accomplished great things. They’ve written books, changed a person’s life for the better, followed their dreams.

Some of them have been inspirational in less-tangible ways.

There are so many people who have left a mark on me after meeting them that I decided to make a list.

There’s over 30 people on that list, which I carry every day with me in my reporter’s notebook.

There’s teachers, authors, actors, musicians, soul-searchers, public servants, students and even landscapers on that list.

Many, many of these people have a certain quality in common: they live an authentic life.

Torvald Lekvam/
Torvald Lekvam/

All of these individuals who have achieved their various goals– got a policy or law amended,  snagged and agent and published a book series, rose against all odds to top the music charts, made life just a little brighter for a child in need– flourished because they were led by something which spoke to them, something that was meaningful to them.

How do we find that for ourselves?

Well, none of the people on my list made it there because they were counting the days to retirement. None of these people chose to bide their time until “later.”

Before there was glory, their stories spoke of the love which created a spark.

When you sit down with someone, when they become comfortable with you, the mask usually comes off. You learn of the adversity they faced when they began, their motivations and the struggles they continue to face. Behind the persona of an artist or author is their humanity; their original self.

The pattern hadn’t occurred to me until recently, though I had been chronicling my inspirational interviewees for two years.

Zen Buddhism writings discuss the notion of the “original self” at length. It is ourselves when empty of thought; it is ourselves when completely immersed in “now.” It’s a goal of meditation and of the philosophy/religion overall.

When we return to our original selves, all pretentiousness has gone. Lies have left. Stress is lost. There is only truth.

All of these people accomplished their goals not for the love of glory or self-gain, but to create so as to share, or boost those who could not reach. May we all look inside ourselves for the gifts we possess and the loves we cherish to impact positively the lives within our reach every day.

May we all someday be on someone’s list.

Who is on your list of personal inspiration?

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