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(The following is solely the opinion of the author who is just fine with you not agreeing with her. To that end, if you’re thinking about writing ugly words you wouldn’t want attributed to you on the front page of the NY Times, please don’t.)
Oh good. I got your attention. It must have been the hyperbolic title of this article. “No”, you say? It’s because the title was so absurd you simply couldn’t help yourself— you just had to take a peek?
I will now remove my proverbial tongue from my proverbial cheek and let you in on the gist of this article, and why I wrote it.
I don’t know about you, but I am ‘up to here’ with hyperbole. I’m suffering from an overdose of exaggeration, hype, questionable claims, flamboyant methods, dramatic language, deception, lies and the thesaurus. Coming from a reformed adjective junkie, this is a remarkable (though not secret) turn of events.
I can’t take it any more. Neither should you.
We live in a crowded world, bursting at the seams with sales and marketing language. We’re taught that in order to get noticed, we must distinguish ourselves with our Unique Value Proposition (UVP). However, when you resort to hyperbole in an effort to stand out from the 7,322,489 people who are your ‘competition’ you lose all credibility. In other words, the very words meant to distinguish you, dump you into a category called “jargon-monger.”
In an effort to showcase your uniqueness, you may have unwittingly become just like everyone else.
There’s a fine, but indelible line, between highlighting your assets and your ability to have an impact, and exaggerating your way into a job or business. Those potential prospects who reflect your insecurity, lack of clarity and desperation will be magnetized to you. Those who are discerning, value-centered and purpose-driven will slide right by you, undetected.
Yes, there’s a reason that no one on LinkedIn writes these things on their profile:
- Third rate author who couldn’t make it in corporate so I became a coach.
- I’m so lost in my life that I thought I’d have better luck helping you with yours.
- I wanted to help you become a six figure earner until someone pointed out that the numbers to the right of the decimal point don’t count.
That reason being that no one should lead with their weaknesses, failures or insecurities. The opposite is equally undesirable.
Below is a list of statements that I lifted, verbatim, from profiles on LinkedIn. If one of these is yours, please know that my intention is not to insult you, call you out or make you wrong. Instead, I’m inviting you to look at why you chose the words you chose and why you think you need to embellish the truth of who you are.
- Attain stratospheric success
- World’s most renowned expert on…
- My superpower is…
- The biggest secret no one told you about….
- Epic speaker
- Bullet-proof optimist
- Networking guru
- Talent shepherd
- Wellness evangelist
- Career consigliere
- Styling sage
- One-of-a kind
- Crush it every time
- Write a killer titles that sell millions
- Massive scale
(Award-winning and Best selling? State what, when and where so we can truly grasp your expertise and success.)
When did it become ‘not enough’ to be ourselves?
How did we learn that being who we are isn’t quite enough, and that exaggerating ourselves and our accomplishments will make people like, respect, admire us?
It’s human nature, for most of us, to want to be ‘more,’ ‘better,’ ‘different,’ than we actually are; to exaggerate our accomplishments and embellish our significance. At some point in our lives, we probably discovered someone who was smarter, richer, thinner, taller, more successful, better at relationships, etc than we are. Our egos convinced us that if we just padded our experience, accomplishments, and talents just a bit, then we’d look better, appear to be more successful or people would respect us more.
This tactic will, inevitably, backfire!
When we resort to hyperbole in order to get ahead, we unwittingly diminish who we actually are. Ultimately what this does (consciously or unconsciously), is make us feel “less than”; after all, if we felt worthy and deserving, loving and ‘enough’ we’d be okay with exactly who we are, in this moment. So while elevating our status with others, we diminish it with ourselves.
In the next decade or so, authenticity and integrity will grow to be highly valued commodities. Think: Supply and demand. The less integrity, transparency and authenticity in the world, the more those qualities will be held as precious.
Want to really be special?
Become an expert— on your gifts, your talents, your purpose.
Get to the front of the line. Be the first or the second or the thousandth. But be yourself. Learn how to communicate your true value— the contribution you are and the impact you make. Practice talking about it, not from a place of desperately seeking business, a promotion, or the spot light, but from from a purpose-driven place of being truly in service to another.
You will sleep so much better at night. Your anxiety will diminish. People will begin to refer to you in powerful language: “She’s a straight shooter.” “He’s direct and to the point.” “If their company can’t help you, they’ll tell you right away, and they’ll refer you to a company who can make a difference for you.” “If Bob (or Sue or Mary) said it, you can take it to the bank.” “I trust her.”
Most of all, you’ll trust yourself, because you’ll be who you say you are.
We’d love to hear from you. What do you think of jargon and hyperbole? What’s your reaction when you see it?
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PS If you’ve never seen this scene from the movie, Elf, treat yourself.
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Known as The Impact Expert, she is the main stage speaker, expert trainer, and veteran coach who helps leaders solve key issues related to leadership development, employee engagement, and advancing women. She is the author of the acclaimed book: Impact! What Every Woman Needs to Know to Go from Invisible to Invincible and is currently working on her next book.