Three completely unrelated things came together this past week that individually weren’t all that fascinating but together formed a something I think needs to be given form to.
1. Fear. I was a guest panelist at Greenville’s Switching: Leaving Freelance for the Corporate ladder and vice versa event. My fellow panelists and I shared insights about the pros and cons of working either inside the corporate machine or outside of it. (Really great topic, by the way.) Because many of the folks who attended were in the midst of a transition – some going back into the corporate world and some coming out of it – one of the themes during the event’s discussions was the role that jobs and job titles play in our self worth. Some of that can be pretty negative so we’ll talk about that in Part 2.
2. Bullshit. Discussions about my last 4 posts (The Last Year, R.I.P. Personal Branding, and the last two bits on how to avoid becoming a cog in the social media / marketing bullshit machine) started to sound very similar: There’s what’s real and there’s what’s made-up. We all increasingly feel pressure to keep up with our peers, to put on appearances and to appear more successful and happy and normal than we really are: Everyone’s a best-selling author now. Everyone’s an award-winning expert. Everyone has worked with Fortune 500 companies and major brands. Everyone is launching startups and raising millions of dollars in funding. Right. Except no. A lot of that is just smoke and mirrors. It’s spin. But because so many people are doing it and because it is amplified by the 24/7 onslaught of self promotion, link-bait SEM content and personal branding on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Youtube, Quora, Foursquare, Klout, blogs and five dozen other overlapping platforms, every little bit of spin and bullshit gets amplified to the point where it becomes not only believable but overbearing.
We’ll talk about that and the impact it is having on all of us, on the business world, on politics, right down to the state of the economy. Bullshit affects everything, and never in a good way. Look around. It’s like someone’s open the floodgates. How’s that been working out? If bullshit helped get us in this mess, do you really think more bullshit will help dig us out?
This: The top 5 regrets people make on their death beds. Read it. (It’s short.)
When it all falls away and there’s no one left to impress, when you would give anything for another few hours of life or maybe a chance to do it all over again, all that will be left to contemplate is the truth. You want a glimpse into those last few hours of your life when you’ll look back and consider what you really spent your life doing? Here is a stripped down version:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. […] All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. […] By creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
When faced [with approaching death] […] it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. […] It all comes down to love and relationships in the end.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind.
Hat tip to Zsofia Tallai for sharing that link. We’re going to talk about that article as well.
Those three pieces are connected, and this week we’re going to talk about all of that. No ROI discussions. No social business focus. Just this. Because the problems we are dealing with right now, the reasons why the value of social business is still not clear to so many executives and decision-makers (let alone ROI), the reason why world economies are in shambles, the reason why so many people are divided and out of work and stressed out of their minds is this: We’re addicted to both fear and bullshit. We’re stuck in cycles of fear and bullshit. Everywhere we go, it’s there and we can’t escape it, and it’s a serious problem.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
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And how many of these come down to jacks realization? Damn near all.
You are not your khakis. You are not your title. You are not your bank account. I was watching (ok, REwatching! fight club last night with the boys -15&11, or #14.9J, if you are keeping track of THAT number thing) and explaining jacks despair. What snapped? He finally saw he was slave to a lifestyle built upon a lie. Built upon doing a job that he knew,deep in his heart, was wrong. Rationalizing it away and feathering his guilt with his catalog perfect lifestyle. Until. Until he snapped. That guy, the snake oil monger, who is selling rainbows and unicorns? He can’t abide the real conversation about roi, or business objectives. And he knows it. And on the OTHER side of the table? There’s a middle manager, in his blue cornflower tie cause it’s Tuesday, who knows he and his company sucks. Who is threatened by the new transparency possible, new connectivity POSSIBLE in a really client focused organization. Thx for highlighting the five things, imabe weaving them into everything I do this year-both public and private; every event,operation,project,and thingy shall be run thru that lens.
I actually understood that.
Is this a test, sir?
There is a line from Team America: World Police that would be 100% apropos for this subject. I’d even recommend using it as a framework, but none of the words are repeatable in polite company 😀 Or here.
Fear has been the mode of existence in the society in which I roll for quite some time. It certainly reared its ugly head when the twin towers came down. I’m not sure people have really healed from that, but it’s certain that fear is ruling the roost when Cat Stevens gets arrested on a plane because he looks “suspicious.” In fact, as fate would have it, I am enjoying the great privilege of writing a blog series for Carol Roth called Fight the Fear. It is indeed everywhere.
As for deathbed wishes, all true and good advice, but I would posit it’s equally important to make sure you’re getting your message out to others before they find their deathbeds. I’ve learned the hard way that we cannot assume we will always have a chance to say everything we want to say, and the regrets you have to live with you have to carry around.
I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with and also how people react. Often people get quite defensive when they’re accused of being “yeller.”
Frankly, if anyone disagrees with what I plan to put into these posts, they need a serious reality check.
To argue with me that ROI is actually unicorns is one thing. Some folks need to protect their revenue stream and spelling out the absurdity of their bullshit is a threat.
But if anyone really believes that they’re better off working jobs they hate or lying to themselves every day about what actually makes them happy, then their problems are way beyond my field of expertise. (Though I guess I could change my personal brand to “Doctor Olivier” and start dispensing psychiatric advice online. Without a license. But hey, I’m sure there’s an online webinar/certification I can pay for somewhere, right? Because I CAN DO IT!) 😀
You can. But if you become a “life coach” I ain’t comin back here no more.
I read with eagerness the deathbed confessions because I actually witnessed that last year – my mother-in-law told us all something that had bothered her for years and years and felt the need to say the truth as she knew she was dying. For her, it was a big deal and something she’d always felt ashamed about. In reality, not a single person in the family cared or minded – in fact, we sort of giggled because it was so cute she felt the need to come clean about this fact.
What we make up in our minds is often not the reality, but still it’s hard to say what we feel we can’t. I can’t wait to read what else you write this week. Social biz blah de blah… this is a great theme for the week and so timely as today we celebrate a man who wasn’t afraid to speak up and urged others to do the same.
Imagine if instead of doing what he did, MLK had just spent his time building a personal brand, kissing other civil rights speaker-authors’ asses to score gigs, published daily 3-paragraph SEO-optimized blog posts and worked on selling “20 Steps to freedom from oppression” webinars.
What a disappointment that would have been. What a waste of heart and hope and talent.
Imagine if all of those guys stopped selling bullshit and did something valuable with their lives. What a world this could be.
The truth can be… uglier? I guess, that’s why many social media marketers stay away from talking about roi.. But, what’s the real truth? I grabbed a copy of your book from Amazon and I love what I’ve read so far (still reading). Love the spunk in your writing and it’s very… authentic. Cheers!
The truth is only ugly if you’re on the wrong side of it. 😉
Per the Bullshit section, if you haven’t seen it, I suggest taking a look at the ‘You Can Do Anything’ skit from Saturday Night Live this past weekend. It addresses and embraces exactly what you’re talking about, Olivier.
It’s funny because it’s true. Unfortunately, it’s all around us, but you do a great job calling it as you see it. Cheers!
That skit will be part of that post. 🙂
Excellent thoughts! Looking forward to reading Part 2.
I recently read a blog post by Wayne Dyer on the subject of fear and performance anxiety that really resonated with me at a time in my life when I am sometimes, well, afraid of tomorrow. He talked about how there are only two emotions we can experience: love and fear. He says, “Anything that is love cannot be fear, and anything that is fear cannot be love. If we can find our way to stay in a space of love, then fear is an impossibility.”
To get to the only thing that really matters in the end – love – it seems we somehow need to find our way past all our insecurities and self-doubts and focus on the positive contributions we can bring to any given situation.
Anyway, great and timely topic! Here’s the Dyer link for anyone interested: http://www.healyourlife.com/blogs/wayne-dyer-blog/dancing-with-god
Awesome. Yes x100. And thanks for the link.
The grass is usually greener on the other side because it’s fertilized with bullshit.
It’s just become easier to spread these days.
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