By Dr. Ichak Adizes

What does it mean to be genuine and why is it important?

When someone is genuine, that person seems to be at peace with himself or herself. They seem to have fun. They seem to enjoy themselves at whatever they are doing; or they do not do it. They exhibit a high level of energy. Clear eyes. Ever ready smile. They are not trying to impress you or anyone else. They are present physically and emotionally. They seem natural. You do not sense tension when you are with them. They do not seem to be trying anything.

What is going on?

I believe that they behave as described above because they are at peace with themselves. They do not have what I used to call “internal marketing” and now I call “internal disintegration.”

“Internal disintegration” occurs (and is a function of) when there is no self respect and no self trust.

Lack of self respect means that the person is not listening and honoring their own voices of dissention. They do not honor their experiences. They do not learn from their past. They seem to be at conflict within themselves.

Lack of self trust means to me that they do not listen to their intuition. They do not listen to their body. As one would say: “They are not together.” They are unsure of their decisions and whether their behavior is appropriate or not. They wonder a lot and try to cover their inadequacies. They are not sure how sure they should be. They are not at peace with themselves.

One who is at peace with himself or herself, it means to me that he or she accepts his or her inadequacies. They know they are not perfect and they accept it. No need to hide. No need to carry a mask. No need to try to impress what one is not. They are sure that they are not sure. They know when they do not know. They do not try to be right or avoid being wrong. They do not try to be what they are not. They do not seem to be trying anything. What is, is.

Someone else must have pointed it out already, but I do not know who it might be.

You do not want to hire someone who tells you he or she is trying very hard.

And this brings me to a big illumination:

‘Trying’ means that they are not at peace with themselves. They are TRYING to be rather than accepting who they are and what they do.

Have you ever seen someone who is trying to act, or trying to sing. You wish they would stop. An actor should not try to act. Actors should be whom they portray. One who tries to sing is very conscious of his singing and the attempt looks quite embarrassing.

How about trying to dance? Again, wouldn’t you wish they would get off the stage?…

This is a big illumination for me.

In the past, I thought that a person who works hard at whatever he does and tries hard to succeed is one to be appreciated and even emulated.
Now it occurs to me that the opposite is true. If one tries, one is not where he should be or doing what he should do.

Take me for instance: when I lecture, I do not try to succeed at all. I do not even prepare. I get on the stage. I know I have enough material to lecture for a full ten days without repeating myself.  I know what I know and I am prepared without trying. I have no notes. No power point presentations.

I get on the stage and all I know is the first two sentences with which I am going to start the lecture and I know how much time I have been allotted. From then on I am watching the audience and lecturing what I feel they should know. I am having fun. And I am not trying to succeed at all. My lecture flows naturally. And I have been told more than once that I am an excellent lecturer.

Now, give me an assignment to do bookkeeping, and I can tell you that I will have to try very hard to complete my assignment and it probably won’t be very good—not because I do not know accounting. I do. I have a degree in it—but because I simply hate it. I simply hate sitting and dealing with numbers. It is not natural for me.

Here is another example from my professional life: I have been TRYING very hard to manage my Institute. For years. It just occurred to me that if I am trying so hard it means that it is not a natural thing for me to do. If I am trying so hard, I am not having fun. I am suffering a lot and becoming easily exhausted. How strange. If I lecture to a thousand people and even for several days, at the end of the experience I feel energized. Managing my Institute, on the other hand—even for a day—calls for a vacation.

This conclusion is not an easy one for me to accept. I teach management. I write about management. So how can it be that I have to try to manage well? Should it not be something that I excel in? Am I a con man parading to know management when in essence I am not capable of “walking my talk…?”

The answer is that I am a philosopher of management, an observer of the dynamics of management. I understand it. I can analyze it; but do not ask me to do it. I am like an art critic and even the best of them do not necessarily know how to paint or produce art.

So stop trying Ichak. It is time to say it is not for you. Get someone to manage who does not try. Who is having fun doing it.

Ah. Ah.

How many inventors, founders of companies TRY to manage. TRY to succeed. And that is why they fail. Being an entrepreneur does not mean you can manage, no matter how hard you try. It is not you.

In an interview for any responsibility, the candidate should be asked how hard he tried in his previous job, or how hard he intends to work on the new assignment. Usually people are proud to say that they will try very hard.

To me, now, this seems to be a bad sign. The answer they should give is: they enjoyed what they were doing without any trying. They were having fun and they intend to have fun in the job offered; and if it does not work that way, then it is not for them.

Hmmmm!!!!!  My experience is that people fear admitting having fun or insisting to have fun. It seems so frivolous. Which religion considers having fun almost sinful?

This conclusion is a call to freedom. And it applies to ones marriage as well. How many of us spend years trying to make our marriages work. What a waste of ones life. It should work without trying too hard.

And how many of us try to be good parents? If you try, it is not for you. Get someone who is having fun doing it. Marry someone who is a good parent without trying. How would you know?  They simply enjoy every moment of doing it. Simple.

How about trying to diet. Who has not tried to? And we know that it does not work well. Why? Because trying means we are not at peace with what we do. We hate the diet. And hate takes energy. To lose weight one should love being skinny rather than hate being fat.

Skinny people do not try to be skinny. They simply are, because they love what they eat and they eat right. Without trying. They are at peace with what they eat and how they eat it.

When one does what one is at peace doing, one gets more energy in doing it. When we try, the harder we try the more energy we spend. At the end of the day we are totally exhausted from trying and it does not produce the ecstatic results we expect in spite of trying very hard.

Scary conclusion, is it not?

It is scary to me because it means admitting that ones failure, ones deficiency, will not be ameliorated or eliminated by trying—even by trying hard. On the contrary, it will only mask the deficiency. It will only postpone finding what one can succeed in doing without trying.

If I have an executive who is telling me how hard he is trying to do the job, it means that we have to change the job or change the person. He or she is in the wrong position.

I have a friend who has been trying for years to make his marriage work. I respected him very much because I thought he is a warrior. He does not give up. He is trying and trying and trying…

Give up—and the sooner the better.

If you have to try so hard, it means that it simply is not for you. There are natural fits where you succeed without trying. Give yourself a chance, the option, to find what it is and stop wasting your time on trying to succeed in something which is not for you.

When one is genuine, one is not trying. Whatever one does seems natural. Effortless. And since genuine people are not trying, no energy is wasted in trying. Thus they exhibit high energy. They have what it takes. They are at the right job. They have the right marriage.

You do not have to try to succeed. You just have to find what is simply natural for you.