Share Your Failures

I recently ran across a blog post by Paul Jarvis the other day highlighting how he felt about measuring up to his “online self”. It’s an important consideration to understand when you’re scanning your News Feed on a daily basis and basking in the glow of all of the pics, status updates, and videos of your friends on vacations in Mexico or buying their new house.

No one shares their failures online. That’s not the image they want to project.

Social media presents an interesting perspective of the world around us. Our friends only share parts of their lives that they want others to see. They share the pic of their trip to the mountains rather than the one of their living room when they laid around all Saturday night. Social media has given users an ability to shape their reputation. With a few posted pictures across several weeks, Joe goes from being the boring high school classmate I remember to Mr. Outdoors, scaling mountains and navigating rivers in his spare time.

Truth be told, we don’t live up to our online selves. But, that’s not the point. Of course it behooves the sharer to post interesting photos rather than the dull occurrences of daily life. It also helps out the consumer (Let’s face it, I don’t want to stare at a picture of Joe sitting on his couch on a Wednesday night).

My point is not to stop sharing that kind of information. Instead, I’d argue for a blend of dream-world and real-world posts, especially if you’re in the market to connect with potential customers.

The Intimidation of Perfect

When I was personal training full-time, I used to love the look on my clients’ faces when I would tell them about how I devoured a chocolate cake on the weekend. Prior to that admission, I believe they thought I just munched on celery sticks, salad, and the occasional low-fat dressing for every one of my meals. The thought of their trainer eating cake was absolutely absurd. Aren’t personal trainer supposed to workout all the time and eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables? Just imagine their look when I told them I had a borderline obsession with craft beer.

Rather than push them away and give them a sense of insecurity, these conversations actually brought me closer to my clients. As it turns out, personal trainers are often viewed as intimidating robots that cringe at the site of chocolate and go to bed at 9PM every evening. Little do they know that trainers are actually quite human.

Perfection is largely intimidating for one main reason: it can’t be replicated.

When you meet a potential coaching client or customer for the first time that’s looking to follow in your footsteps, they’re likely fearful that they will never be able to live up to your expectations. This situation plays out in many arenas.

New bloggers think that they will never live up to their professional counterparts.

Budding entrepreneurs can’t even fathom living up to the success of the Steve Jobs’ and Richard Branson’s of the world.

In each scenario, the expert’s suspected mastery of the subject matter is likely largely exaggerated. I’m not saying that Steve Jobs wasn’t exceptionally skilled at creating new products and marketing them to the public. However, for each success, there were undoubtedly failures (the Apple Lisa for one).

Imperfection breeds hope.

Hope that you can live up to the expectations of others.

Hope that despite where you may start out, the finish line is attainable.

Perfection isn’t possible. There’s only better. By sharing your imperfections with friends, clients, and readers, you’ll develop a deeper bond than before.

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