“People travel to wonder
at the height of the mountains,
at the huge waves of the seas,
at the long course of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motion of the stars,
and yet they pass by themselves
— Saint Augustine of Hippo
Isn't it remarkable how little we're truly ourselves. We're often so afraid that anyone will see us as we see ourselves that we wear masks and project our best version at every available opportunity.
As humans we are prone to over analysing how others see us. Ever noticed how we pay so much attention to one negative comment but ignore ten positive ones? We're desperate to know what people really think. Are they telling the truth whilst the others are just saying what I want to hear?
It's easy to sugarcoat everything we do in an attempt to avoid judgement and criticism, to stop the negative comments having a chance to outweigh the positive ones. No place is this more prevalent than on Facebook. Every post shows the side we want to show, whilst our Instagram feed paints a picture of how wonderful our life is.
You see, most people just want to fit in. To be a part of the crowd, to never stand out. That's fine, but it's not how you build a business. It's not how you draw an audience. It's not how you make deep friends.
For a business to ever work it has to stand out. That is the whole premise of marketing. The ability to gain attention by being different to your competitors.
For friendship to work, you have to be real. No-one wants to be friends with the average of everyone's perceived socially acceptable human being. No-one has 2.5 kids.
Respect and admiration are built upon appreciating the similarities and differences we have. This is true both in business and in life. Some of my best friends are markedly different to me. I've learnt so much from these people. Heck, we even named our business Contrast in reference to the fact Mike and I are so different.
Not everyone will like you or agree with you, and that's fine. You will be wrong sometimes, make mistakes, and be human. You are a work in progress, after all.
It's important we try to be real. To be us. People buy from those they trust and they trust those who are real. You're far more likely to make a sale if you acknowledge some of the downsides of your offering than if you pretend that everything is perfect. People are wary of perfection, nothing is perfect. If you're up front with the downsides then people will feel they have a better picture of what you're offering and more confidence in the rest of what you're saying.
Honesty and integrity (being you) then, are good for both business and life. But regardless of this, they're actually healthy. They're freeing.
It's not easy, but we don't have to go all in. We need only take baby steps, moving forwards little by little. Evolving and growing over time.
“You’re a ghost driving a meat coated skeleton made from stardust. What do you have to be afraid of?” — unknown
We all get one shot at life.
Much better to be loved for who we are than liked for who we're not.