It is not unusual to stumble over quotations on how to find happiness with rather simplistic sentences such as “just be yourself”. Common variations of this advice may include recommendations to “be authentic” or to “unleash your true self”.
too much me, myself and I
I am fascinated by these seemingly deep and existentialist sentences, like “stop worrying about what others think of you”. As if certain human beings would possess the ability to read other people’s minds and know what they were thinking… To think is a lonely job and happens only in one’s own head. Whatever I may think the others could think of me, is just the profoundly biased Me thinking of myself and how I think I may fit in. too complicated?
Imagine being in a meeting to give feedback on an upcoming project, that you have never liked in the first place. You may also think that the client or your boss present is a pretentious incompetent ass. Apply the aforementioned tips and be your true self, why should you pretend otherwise? Just say what you think, be brutally honest. It surely is not that complicated, isn‘t it?
too much thinking
Certain LinkedIn posts offer further profound wisdom on how to boost your success. I leave it up to your discretion to decide which type of success that actually may be. Although quotations like “if you think you are great, you are” or “if you think you can make it, you will” give a clear direction on what a successful life may look like. The beauty, as well as the danger of thoughts is that they are profoundly linked to creativity and that they do not have to necessarily follow physical, logical or temporal logic. Thinking of being something special, of building something special or of having something special does not mean it was, is or will ever become special. It does not even have to be real to start with. Thinking does by far not mean truth or reality.
self expressing or self promoting
I am fully aware that questioning these tips, recommendations or quotes may be seen as a negative, cynical or pessimistic killjoy. The notion that we ought to actually care about, or even pay attention to, what others think of us, and adjust our behaviour to match others’ expectations or adhere to an established social etiquette, appears to violate a fundamental principle of our consumerist society: that we should all embrace disruptive non-conformity, challenge the status-quo, and unleash our unique self to harness the creative potential of our open-minded society (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2020).
Despite the quotes, a Harvard research paper from last year confirmed that catering to others’ interests and expectations, not being one’s true self, is very common. When asked to imagine having an important professional interaction (such as interviewing for a dream job, conducting a valuable negotiation for their company, pitching an entrepreneurial idea to potential investors, or making a presentation to a client), 66% of respondents indicated they would use catering techniques, rather than simply being themselves, 71% reported believing that catering would be the most effective approach in the situation (Gino, Sezer, Huang, 2020).
On the other hand, results also showed that participants who catered experienced more anxiety and strategic intent as compared to participants who were simply being themselves. The emotional state of the caterers hindered their performance in the professional interaction. Those who behaved authentically were 26% more likely to be “hired” than those who catered (ibid.).
just do it
I am not holding back in giving you a recommendation myself. I may paraphrase Daniele D’Orazi, the thoughtleader of this week: if your ultimate goal is to genuinely express your self, not caring whether the outcome will be positive, it is a healthy exercise to be yourself.
On the other hand, if you adapt your self and cater to others’ interest, the medium or the trending narratives on social media to get a positive outcome, more visibility and likes, then you should revisit your strategy.
Do whatever you want, but, for the sake of evolution, don’t settle for mediocre ideas or things.
The series is giving a voice to interesting, sometimes radical thoughts and the individuals to whom they belong. real and healthy food for thought.
Daniele D’Orazi is a green-marketing expert, who worked as a digital strategies director for a London-based agency for many years. He has written and published a bad-ass book about marketing and teaches Online Branding, Digital Marketing and Sustainability linked to the Fashion and Luxury sector. He shares his thoughts on post-whatever education and the social media world we live in. A true experience. read it here!