In her latest book, Choosing Truth: Living an Authentic Life (Simon & Schuster; $22), Harriette Cole practices what she preaches. By choosing to share personal aspects of her life, including a failed marriage and several years of hidden drug and alcohol abuse, she motivates the reader to be unflinchingly honest with his or her self. That’s self with a capital “S.” She recognizes that what you see in the mirror each day is not just a reflected image, but the person with whom you need to establish an honest, loving relationship. Cole’s book guides you through day-to-day strategies for healthy, happy, and productive living, such as learning to communicate honestly and lovingly with others, striving for your personal best, cultivating a spiritual life, and adopting a service orientation in your work.

Mediocrity and cliché dominate the self-help genre, which has become a can’t-miss category in the soul-searching, post-Sept. 11 era. Nominal celebrity has become the only qualification needed to author a self-help tome. It would have been easy for Cole, a former model whose earlier books focused on wedding planning and etiquette for African Americans, to play it safe. By courageously revealing herself as a real person — mistakes, scars, and all — Cole presents herself as a credible role model with whom readers can identify. Choosing Truth is a tangible example of Cole living out her message. She achieves a level of authenticity many self-proclaimed life coaches and motivators fail to deliver. Those seeking satisfaction, peace, and truth in their lives would do well to read Cole’s book and follow her example.

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