If you are reading this I can guarantee you that you want one of two things in life: to be happy and successful. After a while, you will inevitably learn that it is a bit difficult to have one without the other.
Think about it. How good is success if you are not happy? Speaking of an empty victory… it wouldn’t make a lot of sense, would it?
On the other hand, how can you be happy unless you are on your way to achieving whatever it is that keeps you on your feet? You really can’t.
Now that we’ve established that we all want to be happy and successful, let me fill you in on a popular myth that is supposed to help you get there, but in reality, it’s more likely to stop you suddenly. I call it “the sympathy trap .”
I was just reading an article that talks about the importance of being nice at work and essentially helps you fake it. He says, for example, “to be more likable you must appear trustworthy and authentic by behaving in a way that feels natural and comfortable.”
That’s wrong on so many levels, I’m not sure where to start. Let’s see. Don’t you think it would be better if you were really trustworthy and authentic rather than trying to change your personality to appear that way? And don’t you think it’s better to be comfortable instead of trying to fake it?
The truth is that no one ever achieved success and happiness trying to be someone they are not. That is like wanting to build a beautiful house on ruins. Sooner or later, everything will fall apart like a mountain of cards.
If you have a lot of attributes, then being yourself is perhaps the best way to display them. For example, if you work hard and have work done on time, you don’t have to worry about faking it. And if you don’t have it, don’t you think it’s time to see yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why?
Here’s another way of looking at it: In real-world business, the most powerful brand influencer is your product. If customers have a good experience with him and your services, you are worth gold. If not, enhance it instead of putting lipstick on a pig.
It’s the same with personal branding. Of course, you want to be seen as a professional. But if you prove to be someone you are not and create expectations that you cannot reach, or worse, make promises that you cannot keep, that will hurt your image even more. It will come back to scare you in the way of your reputation.
You may remember Stanford professor Bob Sutton’s popular book, “The No Asshole Rule.” Let me tell you, Sutton is a very smart man and his heart was in the right place. But in both work and life, the perception of behavior is a very subjective thing. And cultures have different values.
Just as one person’s nemesis is another’s a best friend, an outlier that you carry out in one company may do very well in another.
Furthermore, human behavior is situational and is not always as it seems. We all act like idiots at times and our behavior is influenced by how others treat us. Have you noticed that big bullies complain the most about being bullied?
If you spend a lot of time in the real world, on business or not, one thing is clear: those who are happy and successful found themselves. They are comfortable and they know what it is that they support and when you look at them, you know that what you see is what you get.
I call that the rule of truth. Try it sometime.