How Imitating Others Can Build Authenticity

I have always believed that authenticity is achieved by looking inward. My belief was that authenticity comes from within, surfaces when you intellectually explore who you are, and disappears when you copy others. This morning my belief was challenged when I watched this Ted talk.

In the talk Hetain Patel suggests that imitating others can build authenticity. He says:

I am going to stick with it (imitating others) because contrary to what we might usually assume, imitating somebody can reveal something unique. Every time I fail to become more like my father, I become more like myself. Every time I fail to become Bruce Lee I become more authentically me. This is my art, I strive for authenticity.

Authenticity is like the air we breath - it can not be seen or touched but without it we will suffocate. We suffocate because the requirements, demands, activities, and distractions of the world overwhelm us and keep us from seeing our true selves. Competing priorities, expectations, and demands divert our attention and keep us from connecting with our purpose.

If you want to develop authenticity, start by noticing that you are suffocating and take Hetain's advice - imitating others is a useful strategy. Don’t try to stop imitating others. Just remember that when you fail, and you will fail, you have the opportunity to see something unique about yourself. Pause in the moment of failure and ask yourself: What is unique about me?

Question: What have you learned about yourself by copying others?