5 valuable lessons I learned from spending (too much) time on the internet
Casually browsing the internet, and coming across a post of Kim Kardashian…she is studying law. Say what?. Is there something this woman doesn’t try?.
Celebrities, politicians, Insta stars. Love them or hate them, but ask around, everyone knows them. They don’t leave anyone indifferent.
There was a time in my life when I used to put people in the public eye on a pedestal.
Somehow in my head, I decided they had a divine duty towards their followers, be role models of integrity, of setting examples of hard work, resilience and such.
Then I did realize that they are people just like you and me. They are flawed, they mess up, they fail, they get it wrong. But unlike me when I hit send and feel oops, they get to see their shortcomings displayed in the court of public opinion. And these days, the mess up will last more than the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. There is no concept of forgiven/forgotten in the times of the Google God.
Short of ditching my browsing habits forever – this will never happen – I decided to go all positive-thinking and find the silver lining even in the most triggering Instagram posts.
This is what I found: 5 lessons to take on, at work and into the evening with friends (or on Instagram!).
1/ Not everything is a lie, but the truth has been embellished
Photoshopping. By now, we all know that “insta-worthy” means the right light at the right angle, the professional makeup artist (thank you the Real Housewives franchise, for making life without an hour of contouring not worth living), and let’s not forget the heavily curated home décor.
I would love to believe that I could look like Jennifer Aniston. But after reading an article about her fitness regime, I know this is never going to happen. I don’t have her discipline, nor do I want a personal trainer.
Despite knowing all this, the brain will only believe what it sees, so make this mental note; every time an image is triggering in you something that looks like” I will never be this and that”, remember: “celebrities, they are not like us”, their job is to look good. Period. BUT we can learn something applicable to our every day.
Always present yourself under a positive light, in any situations. Be proud of your achievements and celebrate your wins and victories first.
It doesn’t exclude being vulnerable (more on that later!), but any exposure should be thought of with care.
An annual review, a lunch with a client or a post on social media are not the place to spill it all.
For 2 reasons:
1/ consider the purpose of the exposure: if it is a professional gathering, and even if people are spilling their guts, do you really want to give them unnecessary (and very personal) information about yourself or your company’s internal workings?. Be mindful of other people’s opinions and sensitivities.
2/ nobody like whiners, the desperate and needy and those stuck in negativity. When you have a problem to expose, come up with options and solutions. You will come across as resourceful.
Yes to sharing experience with others. Yes to giving support and finding solutions. No to pity parties.
2/ Be vulnerable, don’t be afraid to show who you really are, share your story
Celebrities, they are like us… Kim K shares her struggles with psoriasis, Salma Blair poses with a cane she needs after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis; my heart skipped several beats every time I saw Shannen Doherty’s posts during her breast cancer treatments.
Why do they share their message? Because it makes them relatable, personable and approachable. Away from the professional poses, they show the authentic sides of them.
They also embrace their struggles to become the spokespersons for the millions of others who cannot voice their pain and sometimes despair when facing these diseases.
They give hope, they bring humanity, they elicit a dialogue around what many would have considered shameful diseases that would better be kept hidden for the sake of their careers.
You’re going to tell me: “but you just said..”. True and I still stand by it. There is a fine line between sharing and oversharing, and it’s called know what you are doing, who you are sharing with and why. In a nutshell, the purpose behind it.
How does it translate? At work, when reporting to a supervisor or explaining to your juniors, explain as needed the ins and outs of what happened, the trials and errors, and the lessons derived from them. I am certain that you’ll discover that your peers had the same issues; there again, showing them your process will also make them more likely to share theirs with you. And you might end up learning from each other.
As for posting online, you should be very careful about what you share in social media. First off, because any recruiter will start their due diligence on you with a quick online search. And so would your boss who you have befriended on Facebook – on a side note, this is the sneakiest traps of all, you are sent a friend request from a work colleague, it’s rude to ignore, it’s a trap to let in. The solution: befriend them on Linkedin, you are by far less likely to put your holidays’ pictures there.
Bottom line: You ARE your own brand; you are the boss of it, decide wisely how you want to market yourself.
3/ get over your impostor syndrome, be shameless, be proud of your accomplishments
Ah impostor syndrome, I like this one. Politicians and celebs alike are mentioning it in some of their tweets. Many of us have it. The feeling of not being legit or experienced enough to have a say on certain issues.
Well, my friends, read the comments on controversial articles and see how the celebrities and the anonymous have no shame whatsoever giving opinions and all sorts of advice on topics they have no idea about.
I am not advocating telling people how to do their jobs! I am heavily recommending you stop apologizing for what you “think” you don’t know or don’t have; and start by not comparing your level of expertise to someone else’s; your knowledge and your experience are unique to you.
Explore your zones of genius. Our brains are wired to make us notice the bad news and what’s missing first.
So let’s work on that as soon as we see the trickster playing us.
Start by listing everything that you are good at.
Seriously, everything, even what you think is mundane.
From being a good listener to having a good heart, knitting, anything. Find common big picture points to all of those, the kind that would fit well as a headline in your resume.
Now list several examples of your real-life case studies when you applied these qualities.
In your personal life and at work. The more, the better.
Pause, and read them again.
And here is a tip for you, every time you feel that you will never get it right, read that list. Every time you have a new personal testimonial for one of the points, write it down.
Keep that list interactive. Ask for feedback around you, from friends to trusted colleagues at work.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs have self-doubts. But instead of using them to beat themselves up and shrink like a violet in meetings, they see them as an engine of self-betterment.
What am I missing here? Is there something I should learn more about? Is there someone I know who has done it before and who can guide me?.
Don’t let any sense of failure derail you from what you are doing and make you doubt yourself. Be aware of what you have, decide what more of you’d need.
And continue learning and growing.
4/ what people think of me is none of my business …up to a point…
Do any of the Kardashian care about what people think of their cheesy Holidays cards? Nope!.
They focus on their target market, they post for their core fans, the ones that made them multi-millionaires.
Did the French President Emmanuel Macron even think for a second that being married to his ex-school teacher, 25 years older than him, would only garnish him applauds? Heck no! all sorts of rumors started swirling about the marriage being fake and the likes. What did he do? He didn’t ignore them, he deflected by shining light on the real problem. Are we a society so close-minded that we cannot accept that an older woman and a younger man can fall in love and rearrange their lives to be together?
And this is exactly what you can do.
Many of my clients and friends shy away from standing up in the crowd because they fear being criticized in public. They end up not being heard, not being seen, and the credit of their hard work going to the loudest in town.
This cannot be happening anymore!.
Learn from the examples above how to master the art of gracefully responding to unsolicited advice.
See it as an occasion for you to clarify and deepen your thoughts and to engage in a dialogue that will showcase your expertise. Give examples and put strong boundaries for what is not acceptable for you.
Remember one important thing: when someone behaves like a jerk, they are the problem, not you.
Take a step back, but don’t back off. Let them deal with their own insecurities, keep your eyes on your own prize and carry on with your message.
5/ be limitless
This is THE most important takeaway from all these hours of celebrity watching.
They just went for it.
Kim Kardashian is studying for the bar exam in California. And you thought she was dumb? Think again!. This is a woman who turned an “indiscretion” in her private life into a multi-million dollar empire. She is the uber limitless person if you ask me.
No college, no degree in business? No problem!. She surrounded herself with experts, chose her battles, followed her instincts and more importantly, never saw any obstacles or any lack as a problem.
You want more examples? Megan Mackle is now a British royalty.
Outsiders, neophytes, highly unlikely presidential candidates Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron got elected Presidents of the US and of France respectively.
And I bet if you look around you, you will find in your family, in your ancestry, among your friends and colleagues, plenty of people who beat the odds at some point in their lives.
Yes we can!. If they could, so can we.
This is also a good time to send your “yes, but”s on a hike. “yes, but” is the limited you. I can do this and that but..I don’t have money, time, energy, clarity and […].
Many of these can be legitimate limitations. But you can find a solution for each. You just need to be motivated and be open to see opportunities, be flexible, accept outside help.
Find your support system, take inventory of all your current resources, see how you can make the best of them with your goals in mind.
Your projects might take time to become a reality. But not starting somewhere will never get you anywhere. Experiment with the baby steps method, adapt your strategy and on to the next one.
Conclusion: what do all of these people have in common? A growth mindset. Meaning? they are mind-and-perspective shifters.
They thrive when they are challenged; they revel in solving problems and finding solutions; they have an unwavering commitment to themselves, their dreams and their projects.
They are your eternal life-learners and overachievers.
Shall I say it again? If they can, so can I, and so can you!. What is stopping you today?