I will tell you not-so-of-a-secret. Or actually, just remind you something which the main character at House MD. once said:
Sometimes we lie just to protect ourselves from (existing in our head mainly) danger. Sometimes we lie to stand out (which is only effective for the short term tactics). The job race wins not the one who knows the most, but the one who can sell the best crayon-coloured story (assuming that you weren’t already lucky enough to have influential father, who knows someone from the company’s board).
The funny thing is, that smart people underestimate themselves and ignorant people think they’re brilliant. It even has its scientific name – the Dunning Kruger Effect.
Some people are better than others at lying. If you are a creative motherf**ker, you are one of them. Not because creativity makes you more likely to be dishonest, but because you’re probably good at convincing yourself of your own lies. A lie told often enough becomes the truth – just look at Lenin.
If you have a charismatic or dominant personality (as many C-Suite executives do) you probably also have a special capacity to deceive – which doesn’t mean you lie more than others, it just suggests that when you do, you’re more skilled at it. If you’re an extrovert you lie at a higher rate than introverts. For us (I’m an ENFP), if this client won’t bait – there will always be a next one (resulting in woeful optimism effects).
If you are intelligent, you can think strategically and plan ahead like a good chess player — and you can better handle the “cognitive load” imposed by lying and sticking to your story to make it feel smooth.
If you are manipulative or overly concerned about the impression you are making on others, guess what? You also love to colour your stories. If you are adept at reading body language, you are also adept at sensing when other people are getting suspicious so you stop or adjust your level of bs load. And if you have a good memory, you are less likely to be tripped up by your falsehoods.
The point is – what we see, read and hear from others is just a distorted image of what’s truly happening. And trust me, there is a lot of bs going on in business world, especially if you are not sensitive to it.
These words are dedicated to those intimidated by somebody else’s image of success.
When you remember a past event, you’re actually remembering the last time you remembered it.
In the workplace people fib, fabricate, equivocate, bend or stretch the truth like the heavy neutron star Serpens X-1 has been doing it with the space-time. People rarely show their venerable, true self. It simply does not pay off. Thinking they are protecting themselves, people boast, omit, misinform or cover-up embarrassing (perhaps even unethical) acts or spread the gossip focusing the negative attention on someone else than us. The latter technique is surely used with the great success among many political fencing.
We lie in order to avoid accepting responsibility, to build status and power (Guilty as charged), to “protect” others from hearing a negative truth, to preserve a sense of autonomy, to keep our jobs (Guilty as charged), to get out of unwanted work (Guilty as charged), to get on the good side of the boss, to be perceived as “team players” when their main interest is self-interest (Guilty as charged). Sometimes we lie because we are under pressure to perform so we try to buy ourselves more time.
As soon as you realise that nothing what you hear may be as great and picture-perfect, you are free. Ignoring external factors we have no influence on, we need to realise that we’ve been created equally capable.
(Ok I lied, some of us are Übermensch 😉 )
Each of us has different talents, which sometimes aren’t immediately obvious. Even Elon Musk once said:
Well, you have to look at it, what’s the definition of an ordinary person? I probably wasn’t that ordinary. But my lack of ordinariness did not manifest itself until later in life. Or wasn’t all that obvious. But I think people can choose to be not ordinary. You know, they can choose to not necessarily conform to the conventions that were taught to them by their parents. So, yes, I think it’s possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.
That’s why I love people whose humble beginnings do not stop them from reaching peaks of awesomeness. One of them is my acquaintance Hermione Way – in a way, she is a role model for me.
She is the founder and the owner of a smartphone controlled wearable vibrator company Vibease. Whether you want to wear a latex vibrating piece of tech in your underwear, risking that someone other than your lover will hack and take over the control while you are at the business meeting… that’s a different story (although Hermione claims it’s all safe and secure). The point is, that girl worked it all out because she wasn’t afraid to show her vulnerable and true self. She was playing with it and enjoying it (no pun intended). She simply has it; challenging and awesome lifestyle (How cool is to say to people that you sell vibrators for a living?) and career she created herself, beauty, wild memories, smartness, sharpness, nice (at least he seems like it) and smart looking husband, healthy baby, friends and supporting family. And she is just 30.
She lives with no regrets. Whatever she wanted, she did it. And having a millionaire brother who is also a serial entrepreneur certainly helped in ass-kicking motivation, but it wasn’t the deciding factor why she did what she did.
She didn’t have any resistance of being interviewed on the The Kinda Late Show, having her company’s vibrator in the underwear and giving the iPhone to the audience to control and test the features. And because she did it without the slightest embarrassment, the overall result was admiration for her guts and bravery (and obviously an awesome thought-provocative marketing).
My A-list clients
There are as many lies in business as there are people in business. From the small little lies such as inserting big A-list companies in your clients portfolio (when the only thing you’ve done for them was almost non important and through a third party) to other tricks such as buying your Twitter/FB followers on the company’s page… Or hacking YouTube views of the biggest celebrities to create rumours about breaking the views record (Well, as you know, in SOME countries even election results can be manipulated…).
Normally companies explain the meaning of their brands & mission only retrospectively, they give meaning to the events only after they had happen. They create PR-ready stories, which then can be a great selling material. Who knows now what Richard Branson was thinking when naming his company “Virgin”? Maybe he was on the lookout of one and found it funny to make a call to action via this red-blooded logo? We will never know. What we do know is his after-achieving-success explanation of “being a complete virgins at business”.
We live in a culture that celebrates determination and hard work, and diminishes the importance of showcasing your true self. We need to understand one thing: these are the qualities that keep you in the game after most everybody else has left, or until somebody bigger and stronger picks you up and hurls you back out to sea. Determination and hard work are necessary, yes, but they are the minimum requirements. As in: the bare minimum.
A lot of people work extremely hard and through no fault of their own — bad luck, the wrong environment, unfortunate circumstances — struggle to survive. They struggle to connect, when they need it the most. They are afraid of reaching out.
Even those jumbo-mumbo bullshit “teachers” or messianic self-improvement manuals seeking to spawn a cottage industry of DVDs are becoming famous, foraging on human naivety and weak personalities. The self-proclaimed experts eventually become one according to the principle Think big, talk big and act big.
Obviously, some of them have guts to admit how they started (Hi5! Yann Girard) and I admire them, because they show their real self, their humble, devoid of flashy areola beginnings. And most of the times, these true ‘advisors/mentors’ are giving their 1000% self because they ARE AWARE they are not the real experts (What is a real expert, anyway?). They want to give first before they can receive.
There is no need to be ashamed of your humble beginnings. I am not, although sometimes it feels intimidating as hell to compare my achievements next to someone who started off the right foot and who fought a better fight with his humane weaknesses. I find myself stronger than many people surrounding me, who ‘did’ something big on the back of their influential close ones (or sometimes, they were guided to do so). Let your ego do not blind your ability to think and plan clearly. Don’t suggest yourself with istafame/instagramo-facebook ideal world – apart from beautifully filter souped-up pictures, their authors do not show the behind scenes – how long they had to slave away to reach the current state.
Obviously I would love to be at stage of where I can truly use all my forces where I see the value and dedicate other tasks I do not enjoy doing to others (but these other people do!)
The biggest fight is the one we have to combat with ourselves: distraction, self-doubt, instant pleasures – and this is what I will be perfecting the most for the rest of my life. Because only that way I will be able to get where I intend to get.
Looking back, I will be proud of the small steps I’ve been taking. Now, I’m just connecting the dots to create a big and bright picture, sometimes not really knowing what I’m doing.
I am choosing my favourite colour crayon surroundings and people I want to have in my life and I am letting go of things, which keep me unhappy or not truly “THERE”. Obviously, it’s a tough walk. And I will never know if the combination of opportunities I prioritise is the right one and will get me from the point A to B in the shortest possible way (The joining the right queue dilemma!). But as Churchill said (let’s omit and not judge his sexist, elitist and snobbish views here): Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Knowing that everything is just an illusion and stopping to compare yourself with people at different stages on their lives than yours is the only way to staying sane (but still crazy to do the impossible). So don’t loosen up your sense of competition. Just don’t try to achieve fictitious and unhealthy results (Hello Photoshop models), when they do not exist in reality. And doesn’t matter how big / colourful / battles are happening inside your head – if you can’t produce an output of it – documenting it in some tangible way – nobody will ever know. So let it out loud in some way or the other. Write, sing, talk, record, code, paint, share. Leave the trace. Contribute. (But if you are going to share the duck face or your latest acrylic nails – Begone foul fiend!).
Lay it on thick
Most people are afraid of success. We look at the achievements of others with a mixture of awe and jealousy, and silently remark to ourselves how we are not capable of such things.
But we are. The majority of “successful” people out there haven’t done anything that you aren’t capable of. Usually, they have just two advantages over you:
- They are not afraid to succeed. They are not afraid to try (and fail) until they get to where they want to be.
- They believe in their potential. They believe in themselves, even in face of multiple failures. (And as it’s fucking hard – better surround yourself with the good-hearted friends and partner – Otherwise you will drown before you’ve really swum).
Why success is so intimidating to so many? Because they look at step 100 without considering the fact that there were 99 incremental steps leading up to it. Most of the people see the event, not the process.
The first ever item to be sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer. The vast majority of first-time business endeavours have humble beginnings – most of their owners will only tell you their story once they reach a some sort of validation/milestone, which they can be proud of. Success is always forward-looking. It doesn’t dwell on the past. It’s incremental. If your first step is small, it doesn’t mean that it won’t lead to huge strides in the future. The important thing is to just keep taking steps.
If you take time to examine the process of a “successful” person, you will suddenly realize how success is almost always preceded by a cumulative process of endeavour. Something that we are all capable of.
And that is why success shouldn’t be intimidating. It is just a process.