Turn and Face the Strange: How being yourself helps you succeed in business and life.
In a world where it’s easy to follow the trend-of-the-week, being different has never been more valuable.
Written by Jason Harris, Co-Founder & CEO at Mekanism
“Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.” — David Bowie.
It’s no secret that my idol is David bowie. Why? He is the best of all-time at embodying “be yourself”.
Over five decades in the music, fashion, and entertainment industries, Bowie never stopped being who he was and finding new ways to inspire others with his gender-bending, music-blending creativity. Most of all, as a role model, he made it all right for me and many others to be our own weird and wonderful selves.
In a world where it’s easy to follow the trend-of-the-week, being different has never been more valuable. In fact, it’s crucial to your development and success as a person and in your work. Only acts of authenticity help you become the ideal version of yourself.
But there’s another reason to put your whole, authentic self out there whenever possible: it’s almost impossible to anticipate what parts of your identity other people will be drawn to. You might think that your collection of porcelain cats, shot glasses, sneakers, comic books, or whatever you’re obsessed with will be incomprehensible to your audience, but it might be exactly the thing that they appreciate the most about you. Who knows, you might even make a friend.
When your audience sees you displaying these authentic emotions and acts, it evokes trust. The trust allows you to persuade. What often persuades people is not the substance of what’s being said but the source. This makes sense. On most issues, we just don’t have the knowledge, time, or expertise to make a decision about everything on our own. I trust my doctor when he tells me I need to take Vitamin D supplements or to stay off my sprained ankle for a week. Why? I trust the experience, knowledge and expertise I believe the doctor has. Once you convince someone of all of this, you have the floor. Act like it, and use it.
Even at work, don’t hide it. I’m shameless about filling the walls of my office at Mekanism with images of artists, musicians, and historical figures whom I truly love and am inspired by. Sure, the client I’m trying to land might hate The Clash or Prince, but she almost certainly loves some kind of music or art or cultural icon. In wearing my passions on my sleeve, I give her something to relate to as a human being instead of a businessperson trying to get something out of her.
Something to leave you with… If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my career in advertising it’s that your audience’s ability to sense deception far outpaces your ability to deceive them. The methods I’ve found to avoid this kind of insincerity are:
- Put your true self out there.
- Speak and act with confidence.
- Collect role models (a la David Bowie)
- Boldly follow your core values.
If you do this your true character will shine through in ways you could have never anticipated.