Creating Authenticity in Seminar: Why We Need Each Other to Gain Value

By John Syc


“Denied, not committed to the field of human resources.”

This was the feedback I received after an interview for a coveted internship at a Fortune 10 company about 15 years ago. I protested. I laid out the commitment by reiterating my graduate studies, my other internships, my leadership roles…how dare they say I’m not committed, look at everything I’m doing!

But they were right….and I knew it.

That didn’t matter to me though, I wanted them to be wrong so I could justify my ego. I didn’t try to understand what they saw so I could learn, I only cared about proving them wrong. I needed to uphold the persona I had created that the field of human resources was where I wanted to build and grow my career. The persona continued for a few years as I tried to make the round peg of my career choice fit in the square hole that was my ideal self.

I was not being authentic and hence trustworthy of my intentions. Although I couldn’t see it, in hindsight, I’m sure it caused a lot of work relationships to be tainted. I was not being congruent between my ideal self and my then current actual self. I don’t blame them for being suspect of me.

I pivoted.

“You are being manipulated.” There was a moment in my own personal growth where my trusted therapist said these words. For me, it hit me like a wall of brick. I can still feel the confusion and foundation-shaking experience it was for me. The blissful ignorance and distorted perceptions I viewed the world was no longer valid. It was like taking the red pill.

But I wanted the life of harsh knowledge and brutal truths of reality.

I did make life changes and pursue congruency between my ideal self and actual self. This authenticity creates a trusting relationship with myself and with others…genuineness that can be felt. 

Um…Why is your life story important here?

Reading the Great Books provides no tangible reward. There are no trophies, accolades, or hell even acceptance at the local bar. Most people look at the books we read and say, “did you go back to college, why the hell are you reading that?”

If there is no award for doing this there must be intrinsic needs to read them. From an informal gathering of others on the journey of the Great Books the reasons usually revolve around wanting to understand the world better, to be able to think independently and to gain wisdom. 

Being a member of Online Great Books provides access to the seminar. The event that provides the value of going on the journey with others. Adler sums it up well- 

“The truly great books are the few books that are over everybody’s head all of the time.” ― Mortimer J. Adler.

Meaning, we can only understand what we take away from the books through dialogue with others.

We Need Each Other to Gain Value

If we are to gain wisdom out of these books, we need to trust each other. We need to know that we are here for the ideas and not our ego. And trust requires authenticity; they are nearly synonyms. Each participant among this journey needs to be reliable, honest, faithful, and trustworthy. 

And I’m not proposing manufactured vulnerability, I’m talking about sharing and connecting because you want to. 




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