The Art Of Discernment: Part 1

This insight is part 1 of 3 in the series Discernment

Of all the questions I am asked, the question of discernment comes up the most. Discernment is a telltale sign of authenticity, but the very nature of human psychology makes it one of the most challenging facets of authenticity to learn. The good news is, it can be learned. I learned how, and I can help you learn how too.

Discernment is a quality of authenticity much in the way a scent is a quality of a flower. In the case of flowers, a stuffy nose impedes our ability to discern whether a particular flower’s scent serves our highest intention of an important upcoming event we are planning. Similarly, a “stuffy” head impedes our ability to discern whether a particular idea serves our highest potential.

So we are left with a seeming paradox: Discernment arises from authenticity, but without discernment, how can we unquestioningly recognize authenticity?

Discernment becomes far easier to exercise following a direct experience of authenticity, but that experience is not required in order to start experimenting with discernment. In fact, experiments with discernment will serve to accelerate the discovery of authenticity.

In truth, our authentic foundation is already in place even if we are not directly aware of it. The desire to discover it arises from the fact that it is there to be discovered.

Knowing that discernment arises from an intact authentic foundation lends us courage to start experimenting. Through some dedicated trial and error, our experiences will ultimately lead us to an unmistakable experience of authenticity. In other words: When we learn to discern, we discover authenticity.

Who hasn’t had this experience:

You’re going about your day, not really doing anything out of the ordinary, when BAM! The most incredible idea for a new product or service appears out of nowhere! And it’s right up your ally, too! You excitedly start working through the details in your head, and from what you can tell, success is all but guaranteed! You’re genuinely energized.

But then a day or two passes, and it starts to slip from your mind. Or maybe you’ve even taken some very preliminary steps towards researching it. But now when you think about it, all you can see are the obstacles rather than the possibilities. Just like that, the wind is gone beneath your wings. Probably for the best, right? After all, the last thing you want is another unfinished project to beat yourself up over.

The idea of expressing ourselves in new ways can be daunting. We are often quick to supply reasons why we can’t take a particular step. To compound the issue, we have a mountain of “failed” projects and “non-starters” that we eagerly cite whenever a new inspired project dances with our imagination.

Despite our efforts to ignore and dispel them, inspired ideas continue to surface. Discerning whether a project is a daydream, a distraction, a detriment, or an expression of authenticity, rests with our ability to clearly discern whether an idea is an expression of aspiration or inspiration.

Aspired ideas are most often (but not always) born of frustration, boredom, a false sense of lack, or an grandiose sense of self. Inspired ideas are always an expression of authenticity.

So how do we discern between aspiration and inspiration?

  • Authentic insight (aka “inspiration”) comes prepackaged with an exhilarating fear. Okay, so does aspired insight. Next.
  • Authentic insight comes prepackaged with a daunting array of obstacles. Yes, but so does aspired insight. Next.
  • Authentic insight challenges us to reexamine priorities and shed certain routine activities in order to free up the necessary time, money, and energy necessary to transform it from an idea into a reality. Duh, so does aspired insight. Next.
  • Authentic insight further challenges us to reexamine our conditioned thoughts and behavior so we can leverage our strengths as well as our “reluctant strengths”. As does aspired insight. Next.
  • Authentic insight is the thing we can’t not do, despite all these (and many other) reasons why we simply shouldn’t even try. Bing! We have a winner!

What we have to remember in these crucial moments is that inspiration is not about the “thing” itself: Inspiration is entirely about an opportunity to explore, experience, and express authenticity.

Tomorrow we will continue our exploration into the subtle art of discernment, and discover ways to bring it out of theory and into reality.

Series NavigationThe Art Of Discernment: Part 2 >>
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