Tag Archives: authenticity

Expertise Is Secondary. Flaws Are First.

I think anyone who strolls around the Interwebz at any point looking for an answer to any of life’s great questions will find themselves inundated with information from those looking to help. There are a variety of levels of expertise in those looking to help out as well – everything from utter charlatans to esteemed experts with a wealth of degrees or oodles of success.

If forced to pick, you want more superstar than snake oil in who is helping you, right?  Sort of hard (and kind of bat guano crazy) to argue against that.

For me, there’s actually something else I need along with the expertise and, in some ways, it may even be more important.

Authenticity from someone who has been through a struggle.

Maybe I’m alone in that sentiment, but I doubt it. I see plenty of people providing advice and their tact is one of “You should listen to me because I sit here oozing success out of every pore. All I do is win at everything I come across.”

C’mon now. Really?

Too. Damn. Early. I need someone with a few battle scars. Notched a few failures. Knows the feeling of getting up in the morning and, despite having a long-desired goal, has that moment of “Sweet mother of God… it’s… SO… DAMN… EARLY.”

There is a realness to showing your flaws that makes the advice to follow mean just so much more. Of course, even the highly-polished experts no doubt have had all those ugly moments… they just choose not to display them. Maybe they see it as a sign of weakness? And showing a single chink in the armor is the first step to the inevitable unmasking? I have no idea.

It’s also the fact that the person who has been through the struggles and found even a few fleeting moments of insightful brilliance has more to tell a person fighting their challenges than someone talking down to them from a place of glossy success.

It’s why I try so hard to never do this blog in any kind of way than a retelling of my own daily push for a bit more awesome and a bit less awful. Plus, it’s just much more accurate – for every moment of triumph where I let heave a battle cry, there are at least more 3 instances of stumbling and falling on my face.

And I’m good with that. My stumbles don’t embarrass me as much as they entertain.

And I’ll take that 3:1 ratio tradeoff for a good moment of victory.

Inspiration. Aspiration. Perspiration.

If you’re into fitness and you spend even a casual amount of time on any social media platform, you’ve no doubt seen a ton of things like this:

#fitspo

Inspiration posts like this flood the Internet, typically coming from well-intentioned souls. They’re usually described as fitspo (shortened for fitness inspiration) or really, #fitspo. Because, sweet mother of God, if you can’t hashtag it, what’s the point anyway? You might as well stayed quiet and keep your messaging to yourself.

I personally don’t think there’s a high degree of efficacy in #fitspo messages, partially because most of the messages aren’t particularly illuminating to me. I mean, I love me a good quote that captures my imagination – I’m all about it. But most #fitspo?  Ehh…

But the real driving issue I have with many of these is their tone of “Let ME tell YOU what’s good for YOU.” I think they miss the mark on inspiration, especially because there are few people walking the planet who can speak from a place of perfect authority to direct anyone. We’re all beautifully imperfect creatures so anything that smacks of “I know best for you…” just rubs me the wrong way. Like, every freaking time.

But aspiration? Ahh… NOW we’re getting somewhere! Aspiration still seeks to uplift while coming from a place of humility because the person offering up the guidance is on the same journey.

That’s impactful. That’s powerful. That’s compelling.

I try like hell to accomplish that in this blog because I am so very far from perfect. I know that seems hard to believe with my chiseled good looks, Adonis-like build and buttery-smooth charm, but it’s true. This blog, at it’s very essence, is seeking to help/counsel/coach others as I work through the same challenges as my readers. If you can avoid some kind of struggle based on my own missteps, then that’s a huge win for me.

And maybe the most important beyond aspiration is perspiration or the quiet act of putting in the time and work to do and be better. Great quotes or great speeches give me goosebumps, but I find the person who quietly leads by example to create a much longer-lasting effect. Don’t talk about it – be about it. I am just so intrigued by those who find their passion, put their heads down and get at it.

 

This, of course, makes me look at some of the stuff I do on social media as well. I post up videos of myself lifting in the gym, hitting some personal best, etc. I still wrestle with the notion that it can easily be a narcissistic endeavor.  “LOOK AT ME! DOING THINGS! WITH WEIGHTS! IF YOU AREN’T DOING LIFTY THINGS, YOU’RE NOT HARD CORE AND AWESOME LIKE ME!” Thankfully, I typically do it to keep myself accountable since I have a lot of friends who will critique what I’m doing if something looks off. Keeps me grounded, honestly.

So that’s my hierarchy of authenticity: Perspiration > Aspiration > Inspiration.

Hopefully it will be keep me pointed in the right direction – I sometimes need a road sign or two along the way, you know.

Authenticity: The Fine Art of Just Being Yourself

Authentic. The genuine article. The real McCoy. The real deal like Holyfield.

The notion of “To thine own self, be true” is one that’s resonated with people for a very long time. Like, easily longer than The Simpsons has been on TV. For real… THAT long. Despite the seeming impossibility, it’s true.

I am fortunate enough to have two similar, but distinct forums from which to speak in the most authentic way I can: a blog I do at work and the humble blog you read this very moment. The topics of the two are different. My work blog is about business ethics and is targeted to thousands of colleagues I am fortunate to have in my company. This blog is about… hmm… truth be told, it’s sometimes a little tricky to describe this blog succinctly. If I were pressed, I would say this blog is about my own journey to make myself a little better daily and share that story with you I hopes you can do the same. How’s that sound? Copacetic?

The handsome kid himself

While the exact topic of any given blog post I do on either blog can vary, the most critical goal I have… besides writing something worth reading… is for the message to be completely authentic to who I am if you just walked up to me to have a chat. I cannot stress enough how important I think this is because I think those who lack authenticity lack any staying power with their message. Plus, it just comes across as disingenuous and maybe even flat out dishonest.

I think that’s a huge reason why I have such a disdain for most Internet forums or the comments that follow many Web articles: they tend to be places where people lob verbal grenades from the safety of hiding behind their monitors. Ugh. Or why I don’t just blindly follow anyone who follows me on Twitter. If all you have to “say” is a solely links to the content of others without even a single personal observation or shred of insight, then consider me uninterested.

I write what I would say if you were standing in front of me. The weird and quirky (to put it mildly) sense of humor? Yeah, that’s me. The yearning to press myself to do a little more and be a little better, but without feeling like I’m somehow incomplete? That’s this handsome kid right here.

In the end, I may not be perfect… but at least I’m me at all times.

Death of the Apology

I think at one time, when people made an apology for something, it actually meant they were sorry.  No, really… I think it meant that at one time.  Now?  I can’t say I’m always entirely sure.  What caused this shift in thought on the seemingly humble act saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it?

I’m sure there are plenty of theories to go around, but I think social media has a little something to do with it.  I don’t mean that to say social media is causing us to be insincere… quite the contrary.  I think social media is allowing for some very rapid and open forms of dialogue between people who may have never interacted with each other in any other context.  The problem is that people… and especially famous ones… don’t seem to give much thought to the fact that when they blog, post something on Facebook or fire out a tweet, they reach a lot of people… potentially millions… in the blink of an eye.

Perfect example that just came to light: Cappie Poindexter of the New York Liberty in the WNBA.  Granted, before this story came out, I had no clue who she was, but believe me… I do now.  So what, pray tell, did Ms. Poindexter do?  Well, like so many others, she tweeted on the devastation in Japan… umm… except it looked like this, according to ESPN:

On Saturday, Pondexter tweeted: “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes.”

She later tweeted: “u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less.”

Pondexter also used used the racially derogatory term “jap,” when referring to someone who was offended by her comments.

Umm… what???  And thanks to ESPN for listing all of that in the article because, lo and behold, all that is removed from Ms. Poindexter’s Twitter feed.  Ahh, but that is just the beginning.  The “apology” is really where the rubber hits the road in the story.  This is her apology (which is still on Twitter):

I WANNA APOLOGIZE TO ANYONE I MAY HURT OR OFFENDED DURING THIS TRAGIC TIME. I DIDNT REALIZE THAT MY WORDS COULD BE INTERPRETED IN THE MANNER WHICH THEY WERE.

*sigh*  You didn’t realize people would think that your comments would say exactly what they do say?  That maybe God was punishing them for something?  Like Pearl Harbor?

It’s just really an example of apologizing for getting into trouble, not the actual comment in the first place.  There’s nothing in the apology that states remorse that the actions were wrong in any way, just that people were offended or that the public misinterpreted the comment.  Funny apology, don’t you think?  I’m not sure how I would feel about an apology where the person making it is almost saying it’s my fault for not knowing what she meant.

I do realize this is but one example and it’s not meant to extrapolate this to the entire world… but I do find it interesting that this seems to be typical of public figures these days and that makes me wonder how much this filters down to the rest of us.  If there is one thing I’ve come to learn over time, it’s that people will tend to model what’s acceptable based on what their leaders do.  Public figures are not always leaders, per se, but they are better able to shape the context of the public discourse better than your average citizen simply because they attract more eyeballs and ears than anyone else.

It just would be nice to see a little more authenticity, in the end, when it comes to these matters.  We may all be imperfectly-crafted and fallible human beings, but I like to think we should set our sights a little higher… and then really come clean when we screw up.

UPDATE:

It’s as if the sports world has collectively decided to make my point for me.  Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State football team, also completely whiffs on a real apology.  A sample:

I sincerely apologize for what we’ve been through. I apologize for the fact I wasn’t able to find the ones to partner with to handle our difficult and complex situation.

I think that’s a funny way to apologize for lying to investigators, but hey… maybe I’m kooky like that.