The Facebook ads may portray a luxurious lifestyle, but what are they hiding?
Anyone who says they don’t care what people think of them is full of shit–because we do. We all want to be liked–to be loved. It’s human nature.
That’s why we blog about our six-figure-a-month passive income statements. That’s why we post photos of our zip lining trip in Costa Rica on Facebook. It’s not because we’re trying to be transparent. It’s not because we’re showing you our vulnerable sides.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last seven years as an online influencer, it’s that we’re all full of shit. Whether we mean to be or not, it is what it is. And, our words can be detrimental if they’re not aligned with our actions.
All I cared about was chasing the Dream.
For decades, we’ve been exposed to fear-based media. Look at the news. Listen to the radio. See what’s trending on Twitter right now. It’s no wonder we buy into all the hype. It’s everywhere.
Before I started my online business, the hype for me was something a former manager once said, “If you’re not stressed enough, you will never be successful.”
In pursuit of the Dream, I worked an average of 60 hours a week. Traveled for business one week out of the month. Chauffeured my son to and from soccer tournaments and wrestling meets, as a single mom. Went to night school for two years to get my MBA. Always ate on the go. Slept four hours on a good night. Forget that I was exhausted and manic. I became addicted to this lifestyle.
The more I achieved, the more money I made. The more money I made, the more stuff I could buy. The more stuff I bought, the more stuff I wanted.
I soon began living beyond my means, upgrading to a penthouse apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. I showed up in designer label suits by day and rolled up VIP-style to the city’s hottest parties by night.
People would meet me and say, “Wow, you’re so smart, successful, and sexy–a triple threat!” Women wanted to befriend me. Men wanted to sleep with me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like all the attention. I loved it. I had the whole world in the palm of my hands, yet I felt miserable every single day.
Behind all the glitz and glamour hides a lonely and insecure human being.
The truth is, everything I stood for at the time–whether I knew it or not–I did it to gain approval from others. My exes, my bosses, my friends, my family, anyone who had ever questioned whether I could make it in the world. I wanted to show them!
In my quest to prove my worth to others, I developed an inflated ego. I chased shiny objects. They were vices I used to distract myself from sitting with the pain. I followed the “cool” crowd because I didn’t want to be left behind. I was afraid I’d be unnoticed or irrelevant. I kept up the façade, hoping no one would ever find out the truth.
Every morning I woke up, the more I hated the person looking back at me in the mirror.
I eventually left Corporate America and became a life coach. I downsized my apartment. Sold things. Donated other things. Finally, I was living with more meaning and working with more purpose! Then reality sunk in. “Helping people achieve their full potential” fueled my soul, but not my bank account.
I had to put my marketing and sales hat back on if I wanted to stay in business. I started content marketing. Became very helpful inside online groups and forums. Began launching digital products without knowing anything about email automation. I even launched a podcast with no broadcasting experience and landed a sponsor within months without even trying to!
I was gaining notoriety online in an organic way–being helpful and of service to my community. My business was finally making traction, so I decided to take my training wheels off.
But it seemed like everywhere I went online, someone was trying to sell me the best trade secret or lure me over to their site with endorsements made by the hottest industry experts. And you know what? All of it worked because, sadly, I was still buying into the hype.
I knew they were selling me fantasies, but the fear of missing out was far greater than the financial risk. I wanted to roll with the cool kids again because I felt lonely and insecure; there was a price to pay for that.
Speak up even if you might be unpopular for saying it.
Then one day, I received an email from an aspiring life coach that pissed me off. It reminded me exactly why I was sick and tired of the hype approach. I wrote about it on my blog. To my surprise, my post went viral.
Comment after comment, people agreed with me. I thought I would receive backlash for writing what I did. Instead, people were finding solace in knowing they were not alone. They, too, were sick of the hype, but they didn’t want to rock the boat by being the first to speak up.
I even got invited to guest blog on a huge site to feature my future writing in front of millions of readers. That post did well too.
Months later, I got fed up with Facebook and posted on my wall, “I swear if I see another ad that says, Join this free webinar on how to create a free webinar, I’m going to pull my hair out!” Or, something to the likes of that.
Something peculiar happened again. My Facebook status got shared and commented on by hundreds of people within minutes.
For me, it wasn’t the vanity metrics that mattered. It felt good to be respected and liked for being myself–and not a 75th rate version of someone else. I started speaking up more and more in my coaching, my writing, and my speeches. Every time I did this, I was embraced by positive feedback and encouraging words to “keep being real.” I was standing out, not because of hype. My community was feeling heard without saying a word. It gave them permission to speak up.
Look, I’ve been full of shit. I’m probably going to be again someday, knowingly or not. Hopefully, not too soon.
If you’re an online influencer like I am (people watch, read, or follow your work), so will you.
I get that it feels sexy to rub elbows with the Big Dogs. I understand that you’re following the overpriced launch formula you bought from someone who came before you. Whatever you do, do it with integrity. We have a responsibility to our communities. They eat up our words. They watch what we do. They put their trust in us. They follow our lead.
We can make noise or an impact. What kind of world do you want to influence?
Photo: Flickr/ anieto2k