When I decided to jump off the cliff and go fully out on my own 6 years ago I received a ton of advice from varying people. A few of the pieces of advice I got were to get a custom made suit and an expensive pen to sign contracts in front of clients, get a top notch website that makes it look like you are a “real company”, and to charge the highest market price for your services so that people view you as the best in the business.
I scratched my head at this advice. And, my stomach turned. It was all in complete conflict with my mantra STAY TRUE.
But, were they right? Why did this advice make me feel inadequate? How was I going to compete with the “successful” consultants/coaches?
I had worked hard in my career and on myself for 20 years yet I was brought back to the darkest days of my insecurites.
With one shot to do this…
…my gut won.
I did none of it.
Recently this topic has come up in my work and life several times. Should you be faking it until you make it?
When I ask this question I am talking about in life and at work…
Should you over exaggerate on your resume?
Should your Facebook profile include the best picture of you from years ago representing the present and include fabricated information?
Should you voice revenues of your company that simply are not true?
If you are in a leadership position should you present yourself like you are smarter than everyone and have all the answers?
Should you lead with the fact that you graduated from that prestigious college?
Should you drive a car that you can’t afford?
Should your website read “we”, when really it is only you?
Should your dating profile say you enjoy reading to make you sound smart even though you haven’t read a damn thing expect Facebook in the past year?
My answer to all of these questions and any like them, is NO. I find my answer to be in conflict with many that I have discussed this with. I think that is unfortunate.
I believe that if we took the longer view, we would realize that in order to land that dream job/client or romantic companion for life, we would present our authentic self. We would be brave enough to present our unique experiences and value instead of hiding behind exaggerated accomplishments or characteristics. We would admit that perhaps we don’t have that experience or knowledge yet, but we have the determination and proper intent. Or, we would stop the highlight real we are showcasing on social media thinking we are going to attract the right people.
Take notice next time you are presenting something that is not authentic or truthful…no matter if the audience is social or work related, online or in person. How do you feel about it? Are you nervous? Do you feel a little off balance? My guess is, yes. I often tell people that when you feel that way you have strayed away from your authentic and true self.
Let’s face it. It has gotten pretty damn ugly out there. You don’t know what to believe on Facebook, webpages, dating sites, twitter, or resumes.
But when you come across someone that presents themselves in an authentic and genuine way, for some reason you are drawn to them.
Look, I am not saying that you should “play small”. I am not saying that at all. I am simply saying that you should not bull shit a potential client, friend, soulmate, or employer. It will not serve you or them well in the long term.
I may be living on my own little island, but I believe people are screaming for authenticity in today’s world. People want to work and socialize with well intended people…truthful people. We all have a very unique value to bring to the world and to the relationships we develop, but we have to lead with that.
I never really have gone deep into my mantra, STAY TRUE, on this blog. And, I won’t now. But, I will tell you that for years I would not leave my house without my college ring on or my hair and clothes looking perfect. And I mean anywhere…grocery store, quick trip to get gas, or surely not anything that had to do with work. I was held captive to the thought that I was not good enough…for anything. It went deep for me. To be completely honest, as a black man in my twenties, I was hesitant to wear my hat backwards in fear of being labeled a thug, uneducated or the like. This fear led me to present the world a fake….for years.
I should note…I actually got great jobs at that stage in my life. Unfortunately they were jobs that I was not ready for but I had the act down…great suit, articulate, right answers…bam. Point is, many do make it, faking it. But are they making it inside and how will they be feeling on their death bed?
I could go on about my experience with this and even how it shows it’s face in my world today. But I share this to simply say that I am not preaching to you, but walking with you and attempting to live a “rich” life…as myself. I have come to realize that I will not suit everyone and that I will not be a fit for every client. And at times that fear cripples me. Who doesn’t want to be liked by most and feel they offer high value to most?
But, when I reflect back on my life in terms of how I felt “then” and how I feel now, I am happier. Yes, just plain happier. I have also learned that when I have been powerful enough to present myself consistently as I truly am inside, outwardly, that there are plenty of matches for me both in life and at work. I have amazing clients and a “rich” home life. My wife as my witness, it brings tears to my eyes thinking this world in which I created was predicated on STAY TRUE.
You will make it, if you don’t fake it. Unfortunately, the journey may be a little longer and may not be as picturesque as you dreamed, but years from now when you reflect back on your life you will realize that you made it big.
The true win is you will find yourself in situations and relationships that matter and are not predicated on bull shit. That’s a huge, gratifying win…in life and at work.