Monday, 4 April 2011

Don't let it get in your way.

Who still believes in the motto "fake it till you make it"? Promoting the image without any real substance to back it up, in fact - lying to create momentum and opportunities and get ahead in a career, community or simply among a circle of friends.
There were times in the past when taking such a risk has really paid off, but nowadays the balance in the substance vs. image debate has taken a remarkable swing towards the latter. If everyone wastes times appear more than they really are then won't we be losing more precious time that could be spent in being productive, in trying to prove to others that we've somehow made it?

I think that in this image conscious society the way we appear, the ideas we give to others about our skills and success, and the value we place on gossip and rumour about us and the number of times our name has been published/pronounced in public has become way too important.
I'm not saying we should disregard appearance - if you walk into a bank dressed and smelling like a deadbeat it is very unlikely someone is gonna ever consider giving you a loan for your innovative unique business idea.

Human beings that live in a society need to feel accepted, recognized and respected - that is a given. But already decades ago the psychologist Maslow put those kind of esteem needs below what he considered the most important for a living person: the so-called 'self-actualizing' needs, those of fulfilling one's own potential without caring much about others' opinions.
Not only could this extreme search for social consent put at risk one's gradual build up of professional or private persona, it's also getting on the way of genuine happiness. Caring too much about approval, reputation and appearance is a big distraction from what actually matters: substance.

We often hear it from people who had the guts to go an unorthodox way in order to follow a dream: they were told at the very beginning - it will never work, that's isn't for you, you won't make it - guess what they did? They didn't try to second guess people's opinions. And they made it.

The star financier Warren Buffett says that people have an Inner and an Outer Scorecard - "if the world couldn't see your results, would you rather be thought as the world's greatest investor but in reality have the world's worst record? Or be thought as the worst and you were actually the best?". You should put the emphasis on your inner valuation of yourself, and that should be the source of your satisfaction.

From a purely commercial point of view you can't sale hot air forever, production must come first, sales and marketing has to be the last step of the chain.
In a more spiritual, oriental approach: why not just quietly be? Forget all the noise around you, focus on the here and now, and go your own way.