Let’s assume that you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning. And if you haven’t, why not? There’s tons of great advice you can put to work for you here. If you’re a first timer, or have only perused a few articles, go back and read the rest.
Today, we’re going to put some of what you’ve learned to work. If you haven’t gone back and checked out the rest of the blog yet, the posts I’m about to link to you are especially relevant to today’s topic. Since this blog started, we’ve talked about things like being honest with yourself, maintaining authenticity, taking care of your business relationships, knowing when it’s time to call it a day, being creative, knowing your limits, being confident over cocky, making a good first impression, using your instincts, and communicating properly, just to name a few.
All of these articles share a common thread. They all have to do with your own behavior and how you present yourself to prospective clients, co-workers, and the world at large. But there’s a very big piece of the puzzle that’s missing, and that’s what we’re going to cover today. It’s a very simple lesson really. We all learn it at a very young age. But many people seem to forget it as they get older.
The lesson is simply this. Be yourself.
I did say it was simple, didn’t I? Two simple words. Three syllables. One of the hardest things you can do. Learning and applying this lesson? There’s the tricky part. But doing so can definitely work to your advantage.
I’m going to give you an example. Now some of you out there make shake your head and laugh and immediately write off everything I’m about to say, but bear with me. This is actually one of the best examples of how just being yourself can turn into a very lucrative, successful career.
There’s an actor that I’m sure many of you have heard of. His name is Dwayne Johnson, star of such films as The Fast and The Furious 5, Gridiron Gang, The Tooth Fairy, Doom (though let’s not hold that last one against him, it was pretty awful), as well as the upcoming G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation and the next Fast and The Furious sequel. Suffice it to say, he is currently enjoying a very successful acting career. But acting on screen was not his first calling. In fact, the way he made his way to the silver screen was….well….a little unconventional.
See before he became Dwayne Johnson the actor, he was, to quote Dwayne himself, the jabroni beating, PIE eating, trailblazing, eyebrow raising, heart stoppin’, elbow droppin’ People’s Champ The Rock, one of the most successful professional wrestlers in the long history of that industry. The Rock was a household name, even amongst people who had little to no familiarity with the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) and their product.
It wasn’t always like that though. During his first few years in what has come to be known as sports entertainment, every time The Rock came through the curtain, he was greeted by such spirited chants as “Rocky Sucks” and “Die Rocky Die.” Wrestling fans are nothing if not passionate about what they do and do not like, and they hated The Rock.
Upon his debut, Dwayne Johnson was given the name Rocky Maivia, his name being a combination of his father’s (Rocky Johnson), and his grandfather (the late High Chief Peter Maivia). His character was that of an always smiling, just happy to be there, hand slapping, baby kissing good guy. The insider term in the industry for this type of character is a “babyface”, a term that fit him to a tee.
The problem was, much like many of the popular wrestlers of the 80s and early 90s, Rocky Maivia was a character Dwayne Johnson was playing. None of his actual personality was present. This came at a time when fans of the “sport” were gravitating more towards people like Stone Cold Steve Austin (another performer who rocketed to success once he was given the go-ahead to incorporate more of his natural personality into his character), and away from fake characters. They wanted more reality based performers on their TVs every week, and that was everything Rocky Maivia was not. They could see he was just another character wrestler playing a role (albeit an extremely talented one), and they hated him for it. A fact they made clear with the aforementioned chants.
This was obviously not the kind of response management or Dwayne himself wanted, so after taking some time off for a shoulder injury, he came back repackaged as a bad guy (heel in wrestling speak) with a different character and the name he would come to be known as even now, The Rock. This is where the magic started happening. His new character was essentially Johnson’s own personality, with certain aspects emphasized depending on the role he was in. Upon his return he was playing a “bad guy” role, but his natural charisma and humor showed through almost right away, and fans latched on to it. It wasn’t long before Johnson was back in a “good guy” role, but with a difference. His character remained almost entirely unchanged. It was still just Dwayne Johnson going to the ring every night, but rather than playing up the negative aspects of his personality, he played more to the aforementioned humor and charisma. The result? A five time tag team champion, a two time intercontinental champion, a two time world heavyweight champion, and a seven time WWF/WWE champion, the highest level championship one can attain in professional wrestling, not to mention countless awards from various industry publications. But championship wins, as most things in professional wrestling are, are scripted. The important thing is that he had captured the attention of the audience. He became one of the biggest draws of the 1990s and early 2000s. It would be very difficult to determine who was more popular at the time, The Rock, or his greatest rival and the other huge wrestling megastar at the time, Steve Austin. He was popular to such a degree that he began making regular appearances on talk and radio shows, guest appearances on television, and eventually, film as well.
All by being himself.
Once he became known as The Rock, his character became, well, not a character at all. What you saw on screen every week was Dwayne Johnson, though with certain traits turned up to 11.
The film industry caught on quickly to Johnson’s charisma and marketability, and after his first few forays into the world of major motion pictures, his natural acting ability as well. This led him to where he is, one of the most well known (and well paid) actors in Hollywood.
All by being himself.
That’s quite the long story, I’ll admit. But I doubt a single person reading this can deny the shift that took place in Dwayne Johnson’s popularity, and the doors it opened for him, once he stopped trying to be someone else, and started being himself again. This is a fantastic success story, and it’s one that can work for you too.
All those wrestling fans that hated Dwayne Johnson when he first debuted? They’re all just people. Like you. Like me. Like everyone else reading this. And they immediately saw the fakeness of Johnson’s character and spurned it. This is what happens when you try to be someone other than yourself. This is true in life, and more importantly for the purposes of this blog, in business.
So while you’re putting all of the advice we’ve given you on this blog (and will continue to for as long as we can) to good use, remember to always be yourself. Emphasize certain aspects of your personality if you must (and you probably will), but always, always, be yourself. To do otherwise is to potentially push away prospective clients, co-workers, investors, and really, just people in general. And that is exactly the last thing you want to happen. It will certainly hinder those of you out there trying to maximize your earning potential and carve yourself the biggest piece of PIE you possibly can in other ways.
Be real, be yourself, and people will respond to that.
Be anything else, and you risk closing doors that could lead to huge rewards.
If you smell what I’m cookin’.