Have you been to LinkedIn lately? Everyone there is a super-duper star. This comes with endorsements from folks in their circles — either as former colleagues, neighbours, friends and acquittances. The next question one wonders about is — so why is there a dearth of talent if we have a house full and filled with talents? Follow me as we walk this path.
Let me share an excerpt from a newsletter from Robert Glazer, founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners.
“Last week, a memorable post came across my LinkedIn feed. A successful executive shared a brief biographical story of his career as he has told it to others over the years. The story included raising capital, making a successful exit from his business, and holding numerous high-profile executive and advisory roles. I was impressed. Surely, this was someone you would want to have on your team or to interview about his success.
However, right below that rosy paragraph, the post’s author shared a different version of the same biography, devoid of any storytelling, narrative or spin. It was a purely factual, unburnished description of his career. In this version, we learned he sold his company out of desperation, at the last minute, and he held many advisory roles because he was unable to find a full-time position. We also learned that for one of those key executive advisory roles, he was brought on board by a relative. “
The story was the same, but the spin was different. One was told as the hunter who took down the lion but the other, which seems to be the reality was that of the lion that was taken down by the hunter. One would say, it was a matter of perspective. In as much as I agree, in between the murky waters of facts lies the truth, which is sometimes inadvertently lost in the narrative. And sometimes it is deliberate. In my article on the fallacy of the narrative, I elucidated on matters like this. You will get my point of view if you can go through it.
It’s completely understandable to want to tell stories that put us in the best possible light. In every story, there is an ideal version that makes everything fall into place. Great to hear and soothing to the soul. However, we must be mindful of embellishment that leads to lies (sounds harsh but it is the truth). The issue with lies (let’s find a better name to it — mistruth, mistake, artificial truth, misstatement, alternative facts etc) is that you don’t tell a lie, you tell lies. You need a lie to back a lie. And you build from there. You can even build a tower if you have enough lies in your quiver.
Being mindful and thoughtful of others and the net effect of the stories we tell is something that we must not lose because in trying to propagate a story, “we may find ourselves blurring the lines between the stories we tell and the real events we lived. When this happens, we lose our critical thinking ability and fail to learn… or understand where we just had great timing. Embellishments can evolve into outright falsehoods faster than we expect — with consequences for others and ourselves.”
We tell stories for many reasons. Sometimes, based on our stories, we become likeable. But at what cost? What is benign now, might be fatal in a matter of hours. It is easy to know what we gain but hard to fathom what we lose. Not everything that counts can be counted.
We must be gracious and graceful while being factual and truthful. Unknowingly we can “tension” others to glam their way to success. I see this a lot in entrepreneurial circles — where entrepreneurship is sold as the get-to-heaven ticket of wealth acquisition. The tensioning most times produces either pre-mature success or unintended consequences of abnormal debts. From there it spirals down.
Social media has not helped matters. Should we blame social media? I say “no” because, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh and the hand tweeteth. You brought forth what you had. You were not pressured to tell the story.
It seems everyone is ..
Happy on Facebook
Angry and Knowledgeable On Twitter
Glamorous on Instagram
Successful on LinkedIn
Cancel Master on WhatsApp
Single on Tinder
The stories we tell may look harmless. But they are not. They become other people’s reality. Folks build on those stories, especially in Africa where most culture and traditions are passed down as stories and folklore. Can you imagine how devastating it becomes if you get to know that you have believed in twisted facts? Or what you have believed all along were benign alternative facts? All of sudden, the benign becomes malignant. You get the drift.
The worst form of this is the lies we tell ourselves. Sometimes in trying to get an advantage we tell and sell a story. “S/he got the job because he is of Nupe extract and the gateman there is of Nupe origin”. I remember someone once telling he did not get a job because the folks on the board were of another faith from his. After asking a few questions, I realised that he did not apply for the role. He expected to score in the El-Clasico and he was not even on the bench let alone be on the pitch. He believed a lie and spreads it without any care of the consequences of his actions.
Be careful of the story you share.
Be mindful of the story you believe.
Do all you can; not to believe your own lies.