One of the self-fidelity pioneers who was participating in one of my coaching sessions last week asked me why I define self-fidelity as faithfulness to one’s essential nature, instead of just defining it as faithfulness to oneself.

What a fantastic question.

It took me three years to research, refine and write (and then re-write) Self-Fidelity. One of the trickiest concepts of the book to distill and communicate was this: when we are being faithful to ourselves, what exactly are we being faithful to?

Being faithful to the ‘voices in our heads’ would lead us to a world of hurt. It is very easy to tie ourselves in knots trying to discern which of the voices in our head is the ‘real us’ – which one represents our essential nature. Like a dog running in frantic circles trying to catch its own tail, trying to catch a glimpse of the ‘real us’  by listening to the voices in our head is dizzying and futile. The ‘real us’ is not represented by any of the voices in our head. Our essential nature transcends all these voices.

When I reflected on the 30 years I have spent working in dozens of organisations around the world, what I yearned for was to remember and reconnect to my true nature as a worthy, caring, playful, creative, vulnerable human being. To refuse to treat myself (and others) like robots. I also yearned to illuminate and be faithful to my own unique essence as a one-of-a-kind human being.

Our essential nature is the language I use to describe the qualities that are shared, good and enduring in all of us. At the heart of our essential nature is our essence – our own unique way of being.

If our shared human nature is like water, your essence is like a unique, beautiful snowflake.

Remembering your essential nature and understanding your unique essence is the key to experiencing a fulfilling working life and activating your full potential. When we are connected with our essence, the work we do cannot be replicated and we feel uplifted and alive.

Here is how Carol Sanford describes essence and why it is important to remain connected to it: Essence is what makes every living system and being unique and it is THE source for ongoing and life-giving creativity in your life. When we lose sight of it, we can more easily feel lost in who we are and what we are doing with our lives

Self-fidelity Practice To Play With 

The small (yet mighty) self-fidelity practice I invite you to play with this week is to ask yourself the following question, get quiet and listen deeply to sense a response:

How am I being when I am being most myself?

My essence blends being a change activator with being full of zest  – which I experience as a combination of courage, agency, generosity and vitality.

What is your essence?


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman