“Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.”
I love this quote because its something that most entrepreneurs miss - or rather they think that the opposite is true - despite it being innately human in nature. We know this to be true at a deep level.
And yet social media has trained us to only show our highlights reels in public, making our lives seem significantly easier and more glamorous than they actually are.
While these highlights are fun to daydream about, we are intuitively distrustful of them. We know deep down that life isn't just a series of blissful, effortless moments. Like Orwell says, it's mostly a series of defeats - learning new skills, growing with each failure to handle larger and larger problems. And making small wins through these defeats.
As leaders, we tend to think that we have to be strong all the time. We have to be perfect. But perfection isn't what makes a good leader and it isn't what attracts more followers.
In fact, it's the opposite: Vulnerability and honesty make you more human and attract more people to your cause.
Consider Superman: He was the perfect hero. Indestructible, shooting lasers from his eyes. Charismatic, strong, patient. He has all of the characteristics that we say we value.
He has no weaknesses.
His lack of weaknesses makes him unrelatable, inhuman. And so the Superman franchise tanked. There was no relatability in his stories because he could never lose.
And so ironically, they introduced Kryptonite to his story in order to revive him, not to kill him.
Kryptonite gives Superman risk, weakness, and thus, makes him more relatable.
Keep this in mind when you're publishing content and sharing your story. Get in there and talk about your biggest problems. Share your weaknesses, vulnerabilities, failures.
Not only is this honesty going to make others trust you more, but it's going to make them see how your journey has progressed, demonstrating the value of your products and services. It will make them want to work with you more than if you're just a perfect specimen of human performance and achievement.
Vulnerability and relatability stand out. Especially in a world where everyone is sharing their greatest highlights.
In our efforts to engineer the optimal way to transact with our clients, earning more income with less effort, we've removed the humanity from business.
We've lost the ability to relate with our customers — and relationships make all the difference.
As a leader, you have a choice to make. You can tower above your audience as perfection incarnate, or you can stand beside your them and fight with them in their journey. Consider this analogy from 300:
Xerxes is unrelatable. The perfect god-king who reigns over his worshippers as a tyrant.
Leonidas is in the phalanx, shoulder to shoulder with his brothers, holding up his shield and fighting alongside them.
Leonidas' legacy has lasted for 2,500 years, and will continue to live on for many more to come. Superman has been revived, and his stories are passed from generation to generation.
So dive into the trenches with your audience. Fight along side them. Be human.
The more you treat your audience like trusted friends instead of objects to be wielded, the more impact you'll have on them and the faster your business will grow.