Peanut butter. Smooth and creamy. Rich and chunky. Paired with apple slices, smeared on bread, or turned into any multitude of confections, peanut butter is delicious. Turn to the nutrition facts on the label and it’s obvious why it’s so good—it’s packed with calories and fat. Enter PB2, a dehydrated, powdered peanut butter. You can mix it with water and use it just as you would actual peanut butter, but it has a fraction of the fat and calories. Whip some up and spread it on an apple. Marvel at how it tastes exactly like the real thing.
Except that it doesn’t. It tastes like something that tastes like peanut butter. It doesn’t have the creamy, salty mouth feel of peanut butter. It’s not satisfying like peanut butter. It is powder that tastes like peanut butter. Or consider zoodles, that spiralized zucchini that serves as a low-carb pasta substitute. Like PB2, zucchini is not the real thing. Zucchini will never stand in for pasta. It is egregious to claim that zucchini is an adequate substitute for pasta. It will never have pasta’s starchy bite or satisfying firmness.
We are kidding ourselves to say that these imposters are just as good as the Real Deal. We lie to ourselves because we desperately want to believe it is true. What other untruths do you convince yourself of and how are those beliefs holding you back? Here are some common lies we accept as truths when it comes to our careers.
I’m going to build my career at Company X. This is a lie we tell ourselves because it can be hard to admit that even if our performance is stellar, there are no guarantee that employment will continue. Always be proactive about your career and explore other opportunities.
My team never complains, so I must be a great manager. Really? “No news is good news” is not an effective management strategy. You need to get honest with yourself and with your direct reports and have some real conversations. Maybe you are a great manager. Who knows?
My career will fulfill my life. Some people do find an existential satisfaction in their careers. However, most people have a career that they like, that provides them a certain standard of living, but does not define them as a person. This is perfectly normal and okay.
Do what you love, and you can make it into a career. This is one of my least favorite pieces of career advice. The ugly truth is that it’s really, really difficult to take a personal interest and make money from it. Otherwise, I know plenty of people who would spend their days reading novels while getting paid.
I don’t need to be on LinkedIn. It’s stupid. Wrong.
My reputation speaks for itself. I don’t need to do this “personal branding” thing. Yes, your reputation will speak for itself. But if you’re not managing your personal brand, you have little control over what that reputation is.
The best, most qualified person gets the job. Sometimes. But usually the person who connects best with the hiring team is the one who gets the job. That’s because soft skills are much harder to recruit for than technical skills. People hire people they think they’d like to work with.
The bottom line
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