There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have.
And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.
I wonder if you can get still enough — not quiet — still enough to hear rumbling up from your unique and essential idiom the sound of the genuine in you. I don’t know if you can. But this is your assignment. –Howard Thurman
Last week when I was in New York City. I had the honor of presenting for the Fellows of Starting Bloc, an organization that assists emerging leaders in driving social innovation. My talk was intended to be on goal setting and I began by reading this quote from Howard Thurman. We then spent the next half hour of so unpacking it: going line by line and pulling it apart. I love this process. I love hearing how people interpret these words. And most of all, I love seeing the inspiration Thurman’s words produce. This morning, however, in re-reading the first two lines, I realize that I’ve been overlooking something in my unpacking of the quote.
“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens…” I usually jump straight to the sound of the genuine. I’ve been ignoring that something that is waiting and listening. What is that?
Have you ever felt a deep yearning? I know I have. Way back when I was still a nurse, I had a profoundly deep desire to realize my then undefined reason for being. I knew I was supposed to be doing something and I had no idea what that was. Looking back on it now, I believe that yearning was coming from the something in me that was waiting and listening, straining its ears, parched and starving for the sound of the genuine in myself.
I think this something that waits and listens for the sound of your genuine is the Real You. I mean, really, by the time we’re adults, we’ve put on layers and layers of protective clothing. We’ve had to hide our real selves so we can stay sane and whole and functional. The world is a pretty cruel and prickly place, after all. And it’s sometimes totally necessary and desirable to put the Real You into protective custody. Unfortunately, however, the Real You can get misplaced. It can be frighteningly easy to forget who the Real You is.
And yet, the Real You is still there, waiting and listening for the sound of the genuine in you. I imagine it like this: the sound of the genuine is heard and it’s like a big old wakeup call and the Real You sits bolt upright with eyes open wide and goes, “Hey! I hear it!!”
I know this sounds great, this awakening does. I must warn you: if you awaken your Real You, putting that part of yourself back to sleep may be impossible. Once you’ve met your true self being something less than the Real You will feel totally fake.
Not that you can’t silence the sound of the genuine and stuff the Real You back into a dark corner somewhere. You can–and you may be very good at it already–but I’m telling you that once you have the experience of hearing your genuine and being acquainted with the Real You, you get pretty stubborn about not giving in and going back to the way things were.
What do you think? Are you ready to meet the Real You?
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