Please like me.
Call me naive—or tortured by my self-inflicted authoritarian defiance—but I suspect most people prefer the hard truth over ignorant bliss.
An absurdly whimsical idea, I know.
If you're like me, you're disgusted by the constant barrage and facade of how you're supposed to act and be perceived. Especially as an executive subject to heightened scrutiny. Your stimuli on how to conform to the norm are everywhere.
And maybe, but just maybe, you're near psychosis about how your ideal societal standard is perpetuated by and profited from by raucous media and a one-two punch of corporate-government debauchery designed to control the consumption of your life—and not augment it.
Yeesh. Thanks for letting me screw up your Thursday. But—what does being mass influenced have to do with your career?
As a result of powerfully influential social contagions, you mask your true identity to protect yourself. You choose to follow, not lead.
Conformity without critical evaluation is a slippery slope to a regrettable life and leads to a watered-down version of you. Hard truth.
Let's go one layer deeper—and then discuss how you can take action to avoid a parallel fate.
Copy & Paste Executive Success
What do you do when the herd of sheep, I mean competitors, all look the same? And what do you do when they start flinging themselves off a cliff?
Indeed—you, a devilishly alluring executive—wouldn't fall for such mimicry, imitation, and groupthink. Right?
At an instinctual and psychological level, your survival depends on adapting to your tribe, being included, and living safely—creating unity and sameness. Otherwise, you're vamoosed to die in the wild.
At a business level, your survival depends on being different. So you're told to adapt, evolve, stand out, be a first-mover, produce an unfair advantage, and lead with differentiated skills and knowledge. Being contrarian is celebrated—but more often than not—you'll be ostracized.
Bummer deal, the sequel.
Furthermore, being different is only celebrated once more people rally behind your idea (triggering social proof) and create a compounding hysteria.
What gives? Does your success depend on conquering a mental conflict equivalent to mixing oil and water?
Before you take action, consider how deeply rooted in our psyche all of this mental anguish is.
In our modern times, access to finances is required to take care of your basic survival needs. You are unlikely a homesteader or prepper living off the grid—or even have the skills to be one these days—so cash is needed to sustain your life.
Since this is the case for an overwhelming majority, your career is no longer about a natural vocation but survival.
You need to make some amount of money, or you will perish. Or, at a minimum, live an undesirable, derelict life, again shunned from our throw-away society.
Unfortunately, too many people mire in fight or flight.
And if you feel that way too, you will forego happiness to feed your family—and may even mask yourself to fit in with the herd.
What's the solution?
Overcoming Sameness—Be Unapologetically You
Executives who consistently take responsibility for everything within their control, including mistakes, setbacks, and failures, tend to present themselves as more authentic and appear happier and more confident.
Do they miss out on opportunities as a result?
I'm sure that they do. If you have principles, those principles will cost you sometimes.
But an ethereal attractiveness exists in a person who can be unapologetically themselves. You want to like them more. Ultimately, you wish you could remove your mask, as they appear to have removed theirs.
When you stand for something and that something is so clear that others can rally around you and drive your vision—magic ensues. You become an authority. Theoretically, doing something you genuinely believe in should make you happier.
Sure, you'll break many eggs, but you've already openly acknowledged your mistakes, setbacks, and failures. You may even lead with a message that you're not for everyone. Behaving this way may trigger a scarcity mindset and make you even more valuable.
Being yourself and acting according to your truth makes life a lot easier.
But where is the tangible business value of being yourself? Talking the talk doesn't make taking action any more accessible.
Many mask their identity to win a job, appease a customer, kiss an ass, or collect a paycheck. There are politics and survival at play here. I'm not that naive.
I have observed the following business acumen from executive clients I'd classify as unapologetically themselves. These leaders have meaningful examples of how they:
- Build cultures of accountability: Leaders demonstrate that everyone is accountable for their actions, decisions, and outcomes. They drive a culture where people are more likely to take responsibility for their work and hold themselves accountable for their mistakes.
- Encourage proactive problem-solving: Leaders don't blame others when things go wrong. Instead, they take the initiative to find solutions to problems. Their foresighted approach helps prevent minor issues from becoming big ones and leads to more effective decision-making.
- Increase trust and respect: Leaders earn the trust and respect of their team members. People are likelier to follow leaders who take responsibility for their actions and decisions, even when things don't go as planned. Stronger relationships lead to a more cohesive team.
- Improve communication: Leaders encourage open and honest communication. Leaders who take responsibility for their mistakes are likelier to admit when they don't know something or need help. Actual vulnerability leads to better collaboration and problem-solving within the team.
- Promote personal growth and development: Leaders are constantly learning and improving. They seek feedback, reflect on their actions, and change their approach as necessary. Self-awareness cascades to the team and enhances performance.
I don't suggest being an asshole. Instead, I challenge you to challenge others. Don't stay silent if you have a strong feeling in your gut that something is incorrect or not aligned with your moral compass.
Invest in your backbone and have unflappable integrity.
Remember, it's not what you say but how you say it.
For example, don't oversimplify your response and say, "You're wrong."
Try, "That doesn't sit well with me. I'm sure you have a good reason for your decision, but let's talk about what you mean by that so I can better understand and have a more informed reaction."
There are a mind-numbing number of nuances to consider. Please explore every interaction with critical evaluation to understand how you're influenced and whether you're acting in your best interest.
As you fine-tune your skills, you'll become more confident in taking a stand for your truth and becoming unapologetically yourself. You may even find yourself driving both personal satisfaction and business impact concurrently.
I am confident that doing what everyone else is doing, masking yourself, participating in a sheep mentality, and pretending to be a leader is a tired tune that leads nowhere you want to be.
Want to speak directly with me about your career? Contact me below.