Being The "Real You" When It Matters
By Christian Harris | September 12th, 2016
You are probably aware of the idea of having an online persona, the way that we want our friends and acquaintances to view us in our digital lives online and on social media. We tend to put our best foot forward, as we want to be thought well of by others.
We gravitate toward just posting updates involving the best moments of our days or family vacations or when our kids say something cute or when we really nail it at work…BOOM!
But it’s much less often that we find ourselves drawn to wanting to post about our failures, the times we lose our temper with our kids, that time you said something stupid in a meeting with your boss, those things that embarrass us and don’t show us in the best light. The end result of this self-filtering of our lives, is that we look way more clean and put-together than we actually are. So everyone is individually thinking that everyone else’s life is way more with-it, successful or happy than they actually are.
We feel that our lives pale in comparison to the awesome, fulfilling and exciting lives of our friends.
You can see where problems can and do arise in our false depiction of who we are and the false perception that we get of others’ lives.
It leads everyone to live out of a false-reality. We are portraying a false-reality of who we are and we are observing the false-reality that others portray to us.
…But I have also observed a social trend that has me encouraged and seems to be a response and reaction to the online social phenomenon that I am talking about above.
Where saving face and keeping up a “I have it all together” façade was the social norm just a generation ago, it seems like that is being supplanted by the higher valuation of authenticity and realness, especially among the younger generation. They seem to be rejecting the duplicitous life style that keeps the various aspects of their lives segregated, never to intersect… and I think this change to being more real is great!
Authenticity and just being yourself seem to be of ever increasing value in today’s society.
Being authentic really resonates with me. When I first became a real estate agent, it was communicated to me that you don’t want to be “too honest” but rather put on the artificial veneer of being “a professional”. This didn’t sit well with me at all but I was told that being a real estate agent looks this way and they do these things. Which translated means play it safe, stay inside “the box” because this is “how it’s done”, be diplomatic, keep your opinions to yourself and try to appeal to everyone… be just like everyone else.
People like Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary V) have become hugely popular because what you see is what you get with him and de doesn’t pull any punches. He isn’t hiding behind some crappy crafted polished “professional” image.
He just tells it like he sees it and is real…and people love it… I love it!
He is authentic and true to himself. He yells at people to stop complaining and whining about how hard it is to start a new business and tells them to just start, start something, get out there, make a different and be willing to work harder than the other guy, "Hustle" he calls it… and people love him for it.
He has started a movement and has a substantial following. He is making a difference!
No one is inspired or moved by safety and vanilla, especially when it’s evident that it’s not the real you. People are drawn to convictions, integrity and wanting to be part of something bigger than themselves… something that is going to make a difference and actually matter, they want to be part of a movement that inspires the good in people to make a difference in their local community and the larger world! Just getting the cheapest price on a product or service isn’t doing it for people anymore. People want to be inspired!
I struggled with these type of issues a lot in my first couple years in Real Estate, as it was the first job I’ve ever had that involved having a public facing “image”. Questions like, “What do I want to be known for?”, “How should I dress?”, “How should I talk?”, “How do I brand myself?” where all things I was having to think about.
And then the question comes up of how can I be myself and when: How do I see myself and how do other people see me? In my personal life, in my business life, in my church life? How do maintain consistency across all areas of my life and not segregate my behavior depending on how I think I’m supposed to act in each of these areas. I’m still wondering if I should have even dropped the ”F Bomb” a few paragraphs ago... I guess I’ll find out by how many people unsubscribe from this email.
So initially I mimicked those around me because I didn’t know how to be a real estate agent. I dressed up and put on a professional air when interacting with clients. Keeping it nice, safe and very vanilla. But it eat away at me… I’m just not a “business casual” kind of guy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that “being authentic” is synonymous with being an abrasive jerk who swears like a sailor… It’s obviously going to looking different for me than it does for Gary V or anyone else for that matter because we are different people with different personalities and likely working off of different value system with different prioritize. There are a lot of variables there and lots of room for everyone to do their own thing in their own way.
So the questions comes down to, am I really going to relegate myself to the boring, plain, colorless world with all the other indistinguishable white collar “professionals” out there with their non-descript button-up shirt and khaki pants?!? No thanks.
I mean, for Heavens sake, My life thus far has actually been pretty interesting: I’ve been a paratrooper in the Army, routinely jumping out of planes and have been in Special Operations for most of my military career, which has taken me places like Thailand and Nepal. When I’m not helping clients navigate the home purchase or sale process in Seattle, I’m “playing Army” with the National Guard as a Military Intelligence Warrant Office. I ride a large loud V-twin motorcycle, drink and smoke cigars, though not all at the same time… usually.
I asked my wife to marry 10 years ago, after dating her for only a month, we then got married not even 2 months after that! I’m a husband, father and Christian who apparently doesn’t have an issue with cussing on occasion and talking frankly. I enjoy thinking about, analyzing and discussing the social hot topics of the day. I am an author and enjoy writing. I'm passionate about my community in West Seattle and helping the other small business owners here, so I started a podcast to help tell their stories through The Sea-Town Podcast. I like reading business, history and theology books and watching comic book and sci-fi movies. I love good food, good beer and good company. Being active and out in nature are critical for maintaining my sanity. Observing and analyzing human behavior and why people do what they do fascinates me. I mean really, I could people watch all day…
but I can’t find anyone to pay me to do that, so here I am… trying to start a movement and make a difference through working in the real estate world.
Before I had my revelation that it's ok to be different and do business differently, I allowed myself to be watered-down, to fit in to the narrow bland definition of what a “Real Estate Agent” was. To allow my definition in what I do for a career to be dictated by the negative reputation that is common for my industry (and for good reason, but that's a discussion for another day). No one is going to change the world by just selling real estate behind a desk.
As one of my mentors says, “you have to de-link and disconnect from a ‘negative reputation’ industry, like real estate” (meaning that often times, when you tell someone you’re a real estate agent, they associate you with all the bad, negative stereotypes associated with that profession and are automatically suspicious of you, just as they are of other slick salesy professions… like used cars salesman for example).
So I have often posed the question to myself… and now I’m asking you, the readers:
“Should I communicate differently with my friends and clients in my articles, emails, social posts and such, then I do in person?
If I use colorful language on occasion and am always joking around in person… is it right or authentic… to “clean it up” and be more “professional” for all my other business writings and interactions?”
Sure, this may not resonate with everyone, but that’s often the problem in my industry. Agents try to appeal to everyone and in so doing, blend in with all the other and end up not appealing to anyone… They are easily forgettable and known for nothing.
What do you say? Give me your candid feedback.
To Be Continued in Part 2 next month…
Until next time, be well.