By Sikiru Salami
In this piece, I want to share few things with us on the need to always pay as much attention to the substance in our life decisions and actions, as we do to our reputation, public perception and optics. Speaking of portraying great view and optics out there, we call it ‘packaging’. And in truth, there is nothing bad about it, technically. But in a more philosophical sense, it’s often said, “focus on your character, and let your reputation take care of itself”
Admittedly we are in an age where perception is everything. It’s now all about maintaining good optics, brand and reputation largely from the viewpoint of judgmental third parties. It is also sadly an age of “faking it till you make it”. We seemingly now pay far less attention to the substance and much more on how good or cool people feel about who we are or what we do. Many people are now slaves of “what will people say?”. Many have been forced to build reputation, not defined by any enduring legacies, but on nothingness. Zero substance.
Everything today also is a game of NOW. Short term benefit takes precedence over long term and more enduring benefits. Social media addiction is the new scourge. Short attention-span on important things is a symptom. Social media contents we consume daily have ways of reshaping and redefining, either for good or bad, our values, and possibly our future. A good simple (and perhaps petty) case in point is this. If you can maintain focus, reading a book for an hour without distraction, maybe you’re an exception, and a lucky one. If you’re deeply focused on doing great things, not minding if anyone acknowledges or validates your efforts online, then, you’re possibly among the lucky few. We’re all caught up in that rat-race.
Now going into the specifics, let’s look at the following points:
One. Pay the Price before Claiming the Prize
Greatness takes time, and excruciating sacrifice. Temporal public accolade on account of baby-step successes doesn’t translate to an enduring glory. Being a great scholar requires some long and painful intellectual exertions, and unending studies and researches. Becoming a good professional (of world-class status) takes years of book-facing (not facebooking) and learning under the tutelage of senior colleagues at work. It sometimes requires patience working with crazy teammates and enduring the unreasonable demands of tough (or rude) bosses. Becoming a successful business leader or entrepreneur goes beyond word of mouth. It sometimes takes years of trial and error, failures, cries, pains, starting-overs, and never giving ups.
My point is this. Be very clear about what you want. Go out there and pay the price. Don’t claim to be a Doctor when you’re just an auxiliary employee in a hospital, even if you think you know everything about medicine. Except you have the requisite certifications and field experience, don’t lay claim to be a ‘world-class’ Engineer. Being a pharmacy store owner doesn’t make you a Pharmacist. Don’t claim to be a CEO on LinkedIn, when you have never run a successful business. It’s my humble advice. Walk before you run. Pay the price before claiming the prize.
Social media use can be distracting, quite frankly. Social media platforms however, have today become a significant part of our daily lives. To deny their usefulness, is to be living in fool’s paradise. There are multi-billionaire Dollar corporations whose entire businesses are tied to social media. And if you have younger ones or kids under your care, you sure don’t want to play I-don’t-care-attitude towards social media. These platforms can make or mar one’s future, depending on what we make of them, and how we use same.
My point is this. You should very deliberate about your choice of social media platform; whom you follow; what time you spend thereon, and for what purpose.
Three. Run your Race. Define your Pace
Lifestyles most people portray online don’t necessarily reflect their realities. The fact that your course-mate, old friend or younger colleague takes pictures in a big mansion doesn’t mean that s/he owns it. Let’s even agree that s/he owns whatsoever claimed. So what?
My point is this. Don’t envy anyone. Don’t seek anyone’s downfall. Celebrate people’s claimed successes, if you can, but face your race. Define your pace. Define your goals. Pay the price. Depend on God for positive outcome. And smile often, please.
Four. Tell your story
If you are doing great things, touching lives, please tell your story. By all means, project and promote your work, if you need to. It’s very fine. No one else can tell a better story of great things you’re doing than yourself. Even if possible, hire consultants to help promote your work and personal brand. It’s also very fine to keep mute and let your work do the talking.
Once again, tell your story. Be visible. But, don’t tell a story before doing the work. If you must tell a good story; do the work first. Don’t make false claims. If you have no business with the United Nations, don’t claim to be UN Youth Ambassador or whatever.
Here is my point. Tell story of great things you’re doing, to inspire others, and for information purpose, not for public accolades or social media stats, of course except you’re a Digital Marketer. Don’t let social media likes, ‘shares’, followership, comments or lack thereof, define your happiness. I say this, in the interest of your sanity.
I do believe, have made some sense here. What do you think?