Awareness and Authenticity: Part 1 

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Lesson 4-Awareness and Authenticity

Keep Your Head in the Game

Annotation: Awareness and Authenticity

Opportunities exist all around us, but we don’t see them if we don’t open our eyes. When we’re aware, we keep our eyes open for the possibility of seizing or creating opportunities. They become more abundant when we’re authentic, keeping everything we think, say, and do in harmony. Staying aware of how our daily actions relate to how we define success leads others to appreciate our authenticity.


As human beings, sometimes we fall off track. If we’re living according to the principles of the Straight-A Guide, we can recalibrate. That means we stop perpetuating the problem and start working toward the solution.

Nurse Tina is a great example of someone who understood the importance of getting back on track.

I spoke with Tina during a time of crisis. She is a wife and a mother of five but also faced challenges that would complicate her life.

Tina told me that, as a child, she lived in Southern New Jersey, not even knowing that she was poor. Her grandmother played a pivotal role in her life. As a teenager, she moved into an area she described as a ghetto of Trenton. Tina’s grandmother reared her in the Christian faith, emphasizing the importance of education. With that guidance, Tina could avoid complications derailing opportunities for many other people who spent their formative years in poverty.

Tina attended a Bible college and earned an undergraduate degree. She began earning a living in her chosen career. Since her grandmother had played such a pivotal role in her life, Tina wanted to comfort her and provide the best quality of life for her grandmother’s end-of-life experience. Later, her grandmother needed 24-hour care. Tina wanted to provide comfort and care for everyone in the convalescent home, so she understood that she would have to learn more.

It would be one thing to say that she wanted to provide the best care, but it’s quite another to prepare in ways that would allow her to give the best care. Aware of what it would take to reach her highest potential as a caregiver, Tina made a commitment. She enrolled in nursing school.

What did it mean for her to become a nurse?

It meant that Tina would have to return to school. Many people find it challenging to study math and science as adults. But Tina thrived in an academic environment because she had a purpose: she knew that by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, other healthcare professionals would see her authenticity. 

To be authentic, a person had to:

  • Define success,
  • Develop an awareness that would help her create a plan,
  • Put priorities in place, and
  • Execute the plan.

By applying herself, Tina worked through courses that included microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and other coursework that would prepare her to pass exams necessary to work as a board-certified registered nurse. With those credentials, Tina could do more than comfort patients in need. As a licensed healthcare provider, she could also treat them within her scope of nursing practice.

Tina became a role model for her five children and anyone wanting to see a model of excellence. To succeed, she had to stay aware of opportunities and be authentic in her commitment. 

As a registered nurse, Tina had the skills to serve her community during the COVID pandemic. Administrators frequently needed her to work in the hospital for 18-hour shifts, trying to save people’s lives. The stress from being in such constant proximity to death, without time for her family, took a toll on her. 

During the duress of the COVID crisis, she became susceptible to a pitch by a conman. When he promised her an easier life during that unusual phase of her career, she made an aberrational decision that violated the law.

To save the economy, the Small Business Administration began offering loans to support businesses that struggled because of the COVID crisis. The conman pitched Tina, promising that the government supported a transfer of wealth. That idea sounded good to Tina. She needed hope for something better than the long hours she worked and the proximity to so many people dying. He told her that he could do the following:

  • Set businesses up for her,
  • Operate those businesses,
  • Create jobs with those businesses, and
  • Generate profits for Tina.

When she asked him what it would cost, the charlatan told her it wouldn’t cost her anything. She would simply need to sign documents that he prepared. Those documents, he said, would qualify her to receive loans from the government. Once the Small Business Administration funded the loans, Tina would turn the resources over to the conman so that he could use them to build the businesses that they would own together. He promised to structure the loans so that Tina’s business would not need to make payments for two years. By then, he pledged that the businesses would generate sufficient income to repay the debt.

He misled her into believing that she could own businesses without using her own money—only her credit. But all that glitters is not gold. The conman deluded Tina, and in her fragile state of mind from work exhaustion, she agreed to sign the documents he prepared, hoping they would help her escape the stress of caring for COVID patients at a hospital in Jersey City. 

The swindler had duped Tina. Based on the documents he submitted, the government funded the loans, obligating Tina to repay them. The government’s Small Business Administration deposited approximately $300,000 into bank accounts that Tina controlled.

As soon as the resources came in, Tina turned the money over to the fraudster, believing he would execute the plan. After a few weeks, she realized he had entangled her into a mess. She began to worry that she had broken the law. 

Tina began reading the documents he prepared. When she read that the documents included fraudulent information about employees and past revenues, she felt as if she had walked into a labyrinth, but she didn’t know how to get out. 

Tina pleaded with the swindler to return the funds so that she could send them back to the government. He refused, telling her that he had already used the money to start the businesses.

For months, Tina tried to believe the problem would go away. She lost sleep. She felt anxious. She knew that she had done wrong, and she wanted to make things right.

As many people have done before, Tina had fallen off track. She reverted to the pathway that led to her earlier success in getting back on track. She began reading to become aware of the steps to surrender voluntarily. 

The government had not charged her with a crime, yet she couldn’t stand living with the guilt of what she had done. Being authentic, to her, meant accepting responsibility and moving forward with her life—even though she understood that she would have to endure some pain to make things right. To recalibrate, Tina contacted the Department of Justice, offering to surrender, cooperate, and create a plan to demonstrate her remorse.


Write responses to the following questions in approximately ten minutes. If participating in a class setting, discuss verbally.

4-1: How do you stay aware of opportunities to transform your life?

4-2: How do you think prosecutors responded to Tina’s unsolicited admission of guilt?

4-3: Describe steps a person could take to demonstrate authenticity when it comes to remorse.

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