The Power of… AUTHENTICITY

Dr. James Scott Kennedy performing in Nairobi

AUTHENTICITY. Are you living truthfully? Is your essential Self shining through every day or trying desperately to break through from an inner cage?

Many of us hide our light – by trying to be someone else. We don’t speak up. We go along with the crowd. It takes years of coaching and therapy to peel away the layers of duplicity. We seek to be what society wants us to be – not realizing that the potency of our power lies in our level of authenticity. I would like to dedicate this month’s Power Living column to my dad, Dr. James Scott Kennedy, who died at our family home on July 28, 2005 at 12 noon at the age of 83 years old.

“Every day ask yourself the three Core Questions: Who Am I? Where Am I? What Must I Do To Be Me?”

My whole business is built on helping people find themselves. In writing the obituary with Mom, it dawned on me that Dad would not need my services. Dad was 100% authentic, 100% of the time… a little eccentric, always original. That was his greatest gift to the world. “No double-layered human being here” as he wrote in Africa is a Woman. He let his light shine.

Dad always spoke his mind. If he had something to say, he would tell you directly to your face. He’s the only person I know who – when a dog barked at him, he would bark back… and scare the dog! He kept us on our toes. Sometimes, we didn’t know what he was going to do in a given moment. Other times he was very predictable in his encouragement and love. As a writer, producer and composer, Dad epitomized pure creativity – always with a pen and paper in hand in case a thought, song, or poem came to mind. He honored his inspirations by instantly writing them down. Although he was covered by the media through the years and taught many famous students – from tennis great Althea Gibson to movie star Denzel Washington, he was not thinking about the money his work would generate – he was simply being a divine conduit.

As a philosopher, he would talk about “specificity” and ask his children to ponder three questions that would drive us crazy: Who am I? Where am I? What must I do to be me? It took me almost dying to finally understand the depth of those very specific words – questions which now form the basis of the Power Living Practice. By honoring these questions every day, Dad led a full life… in fact he truly lived all the days of his life.

Are you willing to ask the tough questions?

The simplest questions are often the most profound and can be important self-inquiry tools, such as the Power Living® Three Core Questions: “Who Am I? Where Am I? What Must I Do To Be Me?” When my dad asked me these questions growing up, I didn’t know what they really meant. It took a few decades to explore their meanings and then determine heart-felt answers. These are the questions to ask every day so you can be clear on what you truly want, why you want it and what you can do to get it. Instead of living from inherited beliefs and desires, you can live your own truth and create your own destiny. At the end of one of my dad’s pieces, he wrote: “You, the beholder, must give witness. You are provoked, stimulated. Challenged! Challenged to discover your own humanity. Challenged to search for your own unique beginning as a human being. To try to start anew. To be born again. To marvel at the miracle of humanity and the universe. To learn to ask the right questions. To question! To learn to search in the right places. To question? But to begin!” Begin to ask the tough questions. Don’t allow assumptions to blind you. Become an inquirer. And once you ask, be quiet and simply listen.

ACTION STEPS:

  • Be yourself. This is often easier said than done. Spend time exploring your core. Every day ask yourself those three questions: Who Am I? Where Am I? What Must I Do To Be Me? Don’t worry about what other people think. Get rid of the “shoulds” and live from the heart.
  • Speak up. Many of us hide our light by being quiet when we should speak. Let people know what is on your mind. Don’t be cruel, but always seek to be truthful. When you ask for what you want, don’t be surprised when you actually receive it!
  • Be specific. Become a master of your Self. Be specific in your thoughts, words and actions. The Universe will manifest what you project… for good or bad!
  • Honor your inspirations. Keep a journal with you. When an inspiration comes to you, write it down immediately to capture it in its purest form. Respect yourself as a creative being – creating a life that is uniquely yours.
  • Live ALL the days of your life. Take time to literally smell the roses. Seek to be Present with each moment. Share the gift of your Self with others. And most of all say thanks.

AFFIRMATION:

Today, I offer my true Self to the world.

I seek to be 100% authentic, 100% of the time. I spend quiet time understanding the yearnings of my heart. I do something every day to bring joy to my life and the lives of others. I understand that I am a unique being. I share my uniqueness with the world by creating instead of imitating. By being specific in my thoughts, words and actions, I am the master of my Self and manifest what I need to achieve my divine Purpose.

Today, I offer my true Self to the world.

Listen to the Affirmation:

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Copyright Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. Power Living Column Vol. 52.05, originally pubished August 2005 as a special edition. Teresa Kennedy has written over 70 “The Power of…” columns that are available for syndication. Call 212-901-6913 for more information.

ADDITIONAL CONTENT: Check out articles and tips on Healthy Living and Work & Life. For inspiration, go to our Quote Cards, Affirmations, Impressions, Postcards, and The Power of… column. Also, check out Power Living TV and The Power List of powerful books, movies and DVDs.

PRODUCTS & COACHING: For more, check out Power Living books, CDs and more. Need help reaching your health & wellness goals, clarifying your purpose or taking your work/life to the next level? Find out about our coaching services.

ADD YOUR VOICE: Share your stories of the power of questions by posting a comment below.

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TRIBUTE TO DR. JAMES SCOTT KENNEDY

Dr. James Scott Kennedy

Dr. James Scott Kennedy was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on December 8, 1921 to the late Cara Atkins and Leon Kennedy. His parents moved to Franklin, Ohio when he was very young because his mother had the dream of all of her children going to Ohio State University. Her dream was fulfilled beyond her expectations with all of her sons and daughters receiving higher degrees.

Dr. James Scott Kennedy Preaching

Dr. Kennedy was an innovative trailblazer with many historical “firsts.” He was a creator, not an imitator, speaking out for human rights and dignity for all people around the world. His lifelong personal quest has been for better communications – through both the written and spoken word.

For more than five decades, Dr. Kennedy worked on five continents introducing new and positive concepts of people through theatre, television, radio, academia and the pulpit. He became Professor at Brooklyn College in 1959 and remained there until his retirement at which time he was named Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts. He had also been a Professor at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York and the United States International University in Nairobi and London during the summer months. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and several other organizations.

James Scott Kennedy - Professional Prizefighter

Dr. Kennedy’s journey in life led him to many places – always pioneering a way for others. After graduating from Franklin High School with honors, he joined his older brother Leon (now deceased) in the CCC camp. There he had his first boxing match and gained skills which he used later as a welterweight boxer to pay for his college education at New York University. He fought over 40 professional fights. While at NYU in the 1940s, he lived at the historical Harlem YMCA and earned extra money as a manager at the famed nightclub, Smalls Paradise. One of the original spoken word artists, he could often be found reciting Shakespeare to jazz at a club in the Village.

Dr. James Scott Kennedy - International Scholar

He started his studies at Howard University and received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from New York University, with further advanced studies at the Universities of London, Heidelberg and Paris.

He was an actor, director, writer, producer, composer, and playwright for stage, television and movies. He produced over 100 plays around the world. Some of his works include the first book ever written on African theatre entitled IN SEARCH OF AFRICAN THEATRE (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1973). Plays and songs include Commitment to a Dream, The Rivers of the Black Man, The King is Dead, Don’t Say No, So Much to Live For, Guard Your Heart, African People Suite, Every Man Is My Brother and Gospel Suite for Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. James Scott Kennedy "Mr. Speech" coaching tennis great Althea Gibson

In his early years of teaching, he was a professor at Prairie View A&M College and Texas College in Texas, Hampton Institute in Virginia and Morgan State College in Maryland. In the 1950′s, he finally made the transition back to New York where he became a professor at Long Island University. Known as “Mr. Speech,” he became a voice and speech coach to celebrities, including Althea Gibson who sang two of his songs on the Ed Sullivan show. As a celebrated professor at the New School for Social Research, he was asked by the head of IBM to offer Leadership and Communication Training to executives, becoming a pioneer in this new field of Executive Leadership Training. In 1959 he took as his bride Janie Sykes and they founded one of the first multicultural theatre companies in New York City, The Scott Kennedy Players.

Janie Sykes-Kennedy and Dr. James Scott Kennedy Performing in Nairobi

In the late 1960′s, they lived in Africa, working at the University of Ghana and producing for the 1966 First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, and the First Pan African Cultural Festival in Algiers, Algeria in 1969. In the 1970′s, they were invited as Fulbright scholars by the Prime Minister of Australia to live in Adelaide and introduce new concepts of African-American and African people to that continent via academia, theater, radio and other art forms. The Kennedys were the first African-American family to live on the continent of Australia. They produced three plays for the Papau, New Guinea Independence Arts Festival in 1973. Back in New York, Dr. Kennedy followed the path of his first love and became an ordained minister. In the 1980s, he was Minister of Arts, Culture and Communication at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Harlem.

Dr. James Scott Kennedy, Smokey Robinson, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Jr.

Over the years, the Kennedys worked with and became friends with such greats as Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Muhammad Ali, Smokey Robinson… among many other notables. Upon Dr. Kennedy’s passing, the family received a call from The White House on behalf of President Bush and Laura Bush in celebration of a true American original.

Dr. Kennedy is survived by his bride of forty-six years, Janie Sykes-Kennedy; son, James Scott Kennedy, Jr.; daughters, Sheila Kennedy-Bryant and Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy; grandson, Daniel Marsh Kennedy; brother, Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy; sisters, Dr. Lillian Beam, Irene Williams, Mary Carter; nephews, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Douglas Williams, Esq., Gregory Williams, Phillip Williams, Joseph Kennedy Jr., Adam Kennedy, Keith Carter, Donald Carter Jr., Loudon Beam, James Beam, Dr. David Beam, Robert Beam; nieces Marsha Williams, Esq., Dr. Susan Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Beam; numerous grand-nephews and grand-nieces; and many students and friends.

James S. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. James Scott Kennedy, Sheila Kennedy, Terri Kennedy in Africa

With this, please join me in honoring Dr. James Scott Kennedy… a father, a husband, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a great-uncle, a professor, a poet, a prizefighter, a preacher, a playwright, a composer, a veteran, an activist, a longshoreman, a friend, a great man…100% authentic, 100% of the time. We thank you for shining your light on everyone with whom you came in contact. We love you. Although we will miss your earthly presence, your spirit is here and lives on in everything – in your family, your students, friends, and everyone we will touch with our words. So, as they say in yoga “Jai,” which means victory… victory to the light in you Dad – a light that will shine forever.

“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.”
– Acts 13:36

Dr. James Scott Kennedy, grandson Daniel Kennedy, Janie Sykes-Kennedy

Read more about the Kennedy family and their work on five continents over 50 years.

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