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Authentic Moments

For many people, authentic moments can help to define who they are as individuals, how they see the world, and bring clarity and depth to their relationships. We are pleased to share these stories of authentic moments from people we have encountered in our journey to uncover authentic individuals.

If you have an authentic moment you would like to share, please email it to us at

Coming into your own

In an interview, entrepreneur Don Calveley described a defining moment in his authentic journey — a moment when it became clear that he needed to live by fundamental principles and have a mission in life to begin constructing a self more in alignment with his authentic self:

I grew up hunting and fishing every weekend with my father. We usually hunted for pheasants, grouse, and duck. I recall doing that until about age 15. One day, on the first day of the new duck-hunting season, we were up in the highlands to “scare a lake.” This is when one person goes to the opposite side of the lake to scare the ducks and send them up in the air in the direction of the other people who are waiting with their shotguns in hand.

On this particular morning, it was my turn to scare the ducks. But when I arrived at the other side of the lake, I came across an entire family of ducks — actually numerous families of ducks — waddling around and playing with their young. The sun was shining. It was an idyllic moment of natural beauty. I could not scare those ducks. It was the first time in my life that the thought had registered with me that “I have a mind and I have a choice and I don’t want to do this.” Even with the ribbing of all the other hunters on the other side of the lake, I wouldn’t do it.

At that time, I was a young, bravado-type of youngster who rode motorcycles and did all sorts of things to show off. But this was a moment of reflection and a moment of a choice — and I had made my choice. I put down my gun that day, and I have never hunted again. It’s just one of those things that a person makes a decision about.

For me, it was sort of a spiritual decision. I saw the beauty of the moment, and I chose not to disturb it. It was one of those moments that resonate throughout life. And it was my introduction to recognizing that there’s a balance in life and there are choices in life. That day I chose to live a life that includes people and animals and nature and a lot of other things. I think that day was the first stepping stone for me — just realizing that I was my own person and that I didn’t need to follow along with a herd or public opinion…

Talk about a difficult situation — to actually make that kind of a choice. That day I was with my peers and comrades, with my father, and with my best friend and my best friend’s father.

Then we asked, “And how did your father respond?” Don replied:

It was interesting, actually. When I came back to the group, a couple of jokes were made, but I just said, “I’m over it, guys. I’m not interested in hunting anymore. Clay pigeons, skeet shooting, fine, that’s no problem. But that’s a sport. These are animals and they’re happy...” I don’t have an issue with hunting per se if you’re eating what you’re hunting. I’m just choosing not to do it anymore.

My father was at an age and a time in his life when hunting was a way to stay connected to me. By us spending time together, he thought he was doing it for me because I was a teenager and he wanted us to have a close relationship. That was important to him. So we discussed it and he agreed with me. He thought my decision was fine.

Following your heart...

Here is an example of an authentic moment for a young man as told by his father. The CEO and founder of a successful family business who had hired David to speak about Authentic Leadership to his management team shared how his son had experienced an “authentic moment”:

“Five years ago I promised my twenty-two year old son a successor role in the business, but when he came to work for us, he soon realized that heart was just not in it. He sat down with me at that time and expressed that his calling was to be a teacher of children with special needs. He walked away from a promised $250,000 starting income and followed his heart. He is now an elementary school principal, making a fraction of what he could in this business. He listened to that voice that you spoke of, and learned to trust it at a far younger age than I was able to… You certainly don’t have to be poor to be authentic, but you have to have guts. My son has been one of my greatest teachers…”