NY Times: Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice.

In a nutshell…

If not our authentic selves, what should we be striving to reach? Decades ago, the literary critic Lionel Trilling gave us an answer that sounds very old-fashioned to our authentic ears: sincerity. Instead of searching for our inner selves and then making a concerted effort to express them, Trilling urged us to start with our outer selves. Pay attention to how we present ourselves to others, and then strive to be the people we claim to be.

Rather than changing from the inside out, you bring the outside in.


I may have more to say on this later, but here’s my initial take on this advice.

Interesting advice, though I’m not sure some of the suggestions; succeed in the workplace and make more money by emulating the people who already have, is the best advice for sleeping well at night. I’ve had some good role-models in my workplace, fine people who set good examples, but if I were to follow the example of most of the people I’ve worked with who moved up the ladder quickly I’d be a lonely, back-stabbing, ass-smooching, slime bag in search of advancement and money over all else. Helping people specifically so that they will help you out of guilt or back-scratching barter is sincerely dickish. Help people so you can help them. Help people when they have nothing to offer to you. Then maybe you won’t be so concerned about promotions and money for that pricey high-end mattress; you’ll sleep just fine wherever you lay your head.