Rob May has possibly his best post yet, which rang a huge bell with me, on both business and personal levels. Not surprised, mind you, just that it’s cool to see someone come out and say it, reminding me of what I have observed to some degree.
On the personal side, in going through old posts to find milestones for my kids, for school paperwork, it struck me – and hard – that I was reading posts that made our life sound idyllic, as in some ways it was in, say, 2005, while in the background I was angry, frustrated, there were problems, and much wasn’t or couldn’t be said. Not to rehash personal problems in a post otherwise unrelated, but as a top of my mind example of how life for us may not be how others see it, however much we do or don’t obfuscate the realities. Naturally it’s enhanced by obfuscating the reality, also known as marketing, but people can see what they want or expect to see, even without encouragement.
Mostly, though, we encourage. “There is hype, and there is substance, and the two are rarely in sync.” Hype. Marketing. PR. Personal glorification. Sharing only the good news. It happens in the workplace, which is where I first realized such a thing existed.
When I worked for Christy’s Markets, floating from store to store for a week at a time to cover manager and assistant manager vacations during the summer, there was a girl in one store who was almost legendarily awesome. She was the best. Nobody knew as much or did as much as she did. Everyone knew it!
Somehow I didn’t see it, myself, but man, everyone said so. I had encountered someone who was her own personal PR engine, making sure everyone knew she was great. She was adequate. Or maybe not, considering that she was fired a few months later. Fluff and nonsense can only do so much if the substance slips or if you do something genuinely wrong.
I was in awe of that self-promotional ability, which I have yet to master. I managed a touch of it when I worked in tech support, but there was also substance there. All I had to do was use the types of self-promotion the company was fond of toward the end of being promoted, and it worked. Trouble is, hype can never sleep.
Which brings me to business and the current day and my own foibles. I am probably better at certain technical things than almost anyone, more of a natural, and yet I was unable to get a job and have trouble drumming up work as a self-employed person. I not only don’t hype or market myself well, am not only prone to excess honesty about my own limits, but also tend to have too much self-doubt.
You cannot have self-doubt and show it. The world, the prospective customers or employers, the prospective dates, to get personal, must see the self-assured, all is rosy perspective, even to the point it might sound absurd to you, living the reality.
I know this. I do! And yet… ugh… I Just Can’t Do It. And I can’t do it on behalf of “let me support your computer usage” or “let me manage your site” yet, no matter how good I am. Which raises havoc with pricing, too. I suspect it might help if I were part of an organization beyond just myself, looking to do work myself. It might feel more natural to build a mythos.
Down with imposter syndrome! Fake it ’til you make it! Yeah. Something like that… just need to internalize it.