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How often are you true to yourself?

Today is June 14 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you true to yourself?” Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff offered Sylvester Stallone $350,000 for the rights to his script about a Philadelphia boxer but had their own casting ideas for the lead role, including Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds. Stallone refused to sell unless he played the lead character and eventually, after a substantial budget cut to compromise, it was agreed he could be the star.

Despite being nearly homeless and almost completely out of money, Stallone stayed true to himself and turned down the $350,000 to play the lead in the film Rocky, which would go on to become one of the most iconic movies of all time.

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart noted “I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” Stallone followed his own feelings and remained true to himself despite needing the money offered to him. Could you have turned down such an offer? To be true to yourself, however, you need to know who you are. You need to be aware of your feelings. Like Stallone, you need to know what is best for you. You need to understand the concept of the self. Know that your self, the self you have control over, develops over time; or at least one would hope it does.

Are you really the same person at 42 you were at 22? Opportunities to exhibit emotional, intellectual, and social maturity happen daily and when you add those up over decades one generally has progressed. This does not always happen of course. Some people lack the capacity to grow. For whatever reason, their maturity level never rises above that of an adolescent. For others, however, their life situation prevents them from being true to their self for any number of reasons.

Researcher and author Brené Brown has spent a good deal of time examining this topic of being true to one’s self. One reason some lack a sense of their true self is because they are listening to the wrong people. As Brown wrote “A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we are defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” Are you listening to everyone’s criticism of your life situation? Why is that?

To be true to your self demands a discernment between those who have earned the ability to criticize you and those who have not. Those closest to you who have earned such a place in the development of your self, can provide the catalyst you need to develop. As author Shannon L. Alder wrote “Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.” Who has helped you figure out your worth? Who has helped pilot your plane to the valley of change?

Writer Mohadesa Najumi went further and commented on a woman’s ability to be true to her self when she wrote “My view is that a woman who goes through life without taking any notice of society's perception of her becomes the most feared individual on the planet. This is because patriarchy wants to reduce her to an insecure, submissive female and as long as she rejects the notion of validation, she is perceived as a threat to the status quo.” One such woman who threatened the status quo, and remained true to her self anyway, was American athlete Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias.

Zaharias was an American athlete ignored the critics and achieved a great deal of success in golf, basketball, baseball and track and field. She won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics, before turning to professional golf and winning 10 LPGA major championships. She was named the 10th Greatest North American Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN and the 9th Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century by the Associated Press.

She was one of six initial inductees into the LPGA Hall of Fame at its inception in 1977. Zaharias broke the accepted models of femininity in her time, including the accepted models of female athleticism. Standing 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 115 pounds, Zaharias was physically strong and socially straightforward about her strength. Although a sports hero to many, she was also derided for her "manliness."

Babe performed at a time when female athletes were considered freakish at best, downright unacceptable at worst. "She was not a feminist, not a militant, not a strategist launching campaigns against sexual liberation," wrote William Johnson and Nancy Williamson in Whatta-Gal!: The Babe Didrikson Story. "She was an athlete, and her body was her most valuable possession."

  • How often are you remaining true to yourself?

  • How often are you paying attention to someone’s praise or blame?

  • How often are you taking criticism from someone who is not ‘in the arena getting their ass kicked?’

  • When life required it, how often did you ‘pick up your suitcase of pride and boarded a flight to freedom to land in the valley of change?’

  • How often do you ‘go through life without taking any notice of society's perception of who you are in order to become the most feared individual on the planet?’


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