May 28, 2009

Careful... your facade is cracking

I was thinking yesterday about how people who cling to their youth by covering up their gray, surgically smoothing their wrinkles and buying implants (hair or body), are actually the least youthful people I know.

Youthfulness comes from the inside, and no matter how hard you try to capture it in your appearance, if you don't have it in spirit, you don't have it.

People who are obsessed with recapturing their youth are living in fear and dread of being old. Fear and dread are the farthest thing from the carefree attitude of youth.

I'm writing this because, when you try too hard to be something you're not, it's never believable. You can never be the next [insert famous motivational speaker here] because only that person has had the experiences that have made him who he is. Sure, you can copy his mannerisms and speech patterns, but that doesn't make you him.

Do you copy a favorite speaker's cadence or movements?

Is your enthusiasm forced?

Are your jokes and humor someone else's?

Do you move and speak the way you were told to do in a class somewhere?

Drop the facade. It's fake, it's phony, and it's painful for the audience to watch.

If you really want to connect with people so your message resonates and sticks with them long after you're gone, you have to be real.

Note: You can get away with a lot at your Toastmasters club that you can't get away with in the real world. Be careful about creating a stagey persona that works okay for a memorized 7-minute speech among a supportive audience, but will not work for an hour-long presentation among people who don't know you or care about you personally.

Clinging to a fake persona is like clinging to an outward appearance of youthfulness and vigor. You know deep inside that it's not you. You fear being revealed as a phony. It takes so much time and effort to keep up with the pretense... and you know you can't keep it up forever.

Let it go. Let go of the false belief that led you to this place, belief that there's a way you're "supposed" to look and act to be accepted and successful.

Be you. There's nothing to hide, nothing to be revealed, nothing to pretend. It's freeing. There's no weight on your shoulders.

What are you afraid of?

More of my favorite posts on being yourself and embracing your uniqueness:

What makes you unique?

Everyone's an original

Falling in love with the real you

Who would listen to me?

Who are you trying to be?

He's no Barack Obama

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5 comments. Please add yours! :

Rich Hopkins said...

A stagey persona doesn't work in Toastmasters either - people are supportive, yes, but they can spot a phony quickly.

I find phoniness comes when people want to make a sale more than communicate.

Unknown said...

Oh, snap!

You got me on the hair dye thing!


Heard a professional speaker say last month that nobody invests more in hair, dental work, and botox than those on the pro speaker circuit.

He has a point...

Why do you suppose that is?

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Rich, I've seen some top Toastmasters who look like they're performing "Our Town" rather than giving a speech! And I wonder if anyone calls them on it in their clubs. Just warning against going down that path!

Laura, I imagine in the pro speaker world, like a lot of other fields, people expect that looking vibrant and young on the outside will translate to more bookings. Which I'm sure it does, up to a point.

Marcus Smith said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. It is harder to hold up a facade than present your own persona and material.

When you think about that you have to ask yourself a question. What's the point of pretending to be someone else?

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Exactly, Marcus!

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