“To be or not to be…that is the question” is a frequently cited grade 11 Shakespearean quote.  It comes from the mouth of Hamlet as he wrestles with a personal dilemma.  What should he do?  How should he proceed?  Should he be courageous and noble–and perhaps suffer great harm (or potentially great glory?)  or should he be wise, and safe and live well by taking the lesser challenge? 

There is a new dilemma today facing most of us trying to live wisely.  Should we be “real”, or should we be “true”?   Should we pursue what works?  or what is right?  Should we act on how we feel?  or what we know to be true?

On a personal level I watched it play out recently.  I listened as one friend “dumped” their authentic feelings on another.  They were “real”.  It came out strong, and forceful, without any kind of filtration system at work.  Wow, it was quite the load.  Their words were prefaced by “I’m just being honest with how I feel here” and several times in the conversation they kept referencing “I’m just trying to be authentic with you”.  In the midst of it all I kept thinking to myself “do you really need to say this?  is this the place to be doing this?  (in public).  Don’t you think there is another way of saying the same thing that could be a little more constructive?”  You see, I come from a worldview that was taught “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all”.  In my world–yes, you need to be real, but you also need to be “true” to your inner principles. 

On a different level, I listened to a podcast recently by Stephen Covey talking about the difference between pragmatics and ethics.  He was contrasting “what works” as a life/company philosophy as opposed to “what is right”.  The uptick of discussions about corporate ethics seems to be connected to this tension.  We all know that Covey argues for a principled approach to life. 

So, on a personal level…what’s your track?  keeping it real?  or keeping it true?