Being persuasive is better than being a “good BSer.”
Despite what we see from celebrities and popular culture, the worst do not always get ahead.
How we think matters because it crafts our self-identity and our destiny.
“Hey! How are you? I heard you got a new job. Impressive.” You might say to a friend.
“Yes! I sure did. I’m a good ‘BSer.’ That’s how I got it! My wife tells me so all the time. Buy me a beer. Let’s celebrate.” Your friend may reply.
If an uncultured alien from outer space who somehow happens to speak English were to overhear this conversation, they may find it puzzling. We say things like this because we want to sound funny, and it is kind of funny, at least through our cultural lens.
Humor is a tricky subject because it means different things to different people but a joke like this would resonate the strongest with people who view life as inherently unfair. Every joke comes from somewhere. Some are in good taste and some are in poor taste.
But what is this joke based on? It’s a very strange concept to think about. The theory goes that if you BS, you get ahead. If you are too honest, you will lose in the job searching game. As we’ll explore, this is sometimes justified, but this type of attitude can lead to problems.
Maybe it’s time for a new way of thinking about “BSing” your way through life. A less cynical approach that is more entrenched in reality would serve us all well. Since we can only control our own thoughts and behavior, we all must start there.
But… Celebrities are FULL of “$h*t”
Where does the notion that bullshitters get ahead come from? Serve up some fresh “bullshit” to your future boss or client and you will succeed, the old story goes. Look at the plot lines to movies. Look at the most popular media personalities or politicians. Or worse, listen to what they say. 🙄
Does their incentive structure reward things like robust, nuanced thinking, honesty or being a good person? Just log onto Twitter and observe. We all know the answer, just don’t tell your kids or they may emulate them. In this world, it is reasonable to suggest that bullshitters get ahead.
Examples of celebrities who have successfully followed the ‘bullshitting your way to success’ recipe are abundant and they may give this mindset credibility. But if you are reading this, you are likely not a celebrity (if you are let me know and let’s talk about writing a guest post on this blog). 😉
3 Different Worlds
Will the tactic of ‘bullshitting your way to success,’ serve you in your:
- No. Until proven otherwise, you are an equal and you must abide by the same rules as everybody. People don’t tend to glorify your presence even if some of us may pretend they should.
- No. Although your ability to honestly and confidently point out connections between your experience and how you can perform in a future role is useful. You’ll need the right type of honesty.
- Yes. These are the media personalities, celebrities, and politicians. In this world, the worst do seem to get ahead.
Celebrities almost always get a pass on unethical behavior. There are endless examples.
We all know that Hollywood, politics, and big media are not representative of life for normal people. We cannot allow ourselves to be misled by the notion that we are governed by the same rules.
Stay grounded, my friends. And stay focused on what matters most. Let’s focus on our own professional and personal lives, not an imaginary celebrity life.
Lead Yourself Toward the ‘Right’ Path
We know that different industries are governed by their own set of rules and norms. Further, different career paths demand certain behaviors. We must stay focused on what works on our path.
When we re-focus our lens inward and clearly see what is most important for ourselves and our families, a different picture emerges. They key is to hold onto this vision in the face of life’s adversities.
Everything is Significant
No matter what jobs or experience you hold, it is significant. How you perform in these roles is also important. Your responsibility to convey what you do on the job to future employers or clients is extremely important. Be mindful of this. See the opportunity, to seize it.
Unfortunately, the “I’m a good bullshitter” mindset seems to extend to how people view their experience. The tendency amongst disgruntled retail employees or even seasoned administrative professionals whom I interact with is to pull the, “this isn’t what I really want to do” card.
Typically the next sentence follows the formula, “I am just a _____.” The blank, of course, is filled in by their current job title which they have, for some reason been trained to view with negativity.
Well, are you “just a _____?” According to survey data from 2017 collected by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), nearly 91% of employers reported that they prefer applicants who have work experience. Interestingly, only 64.5% preferred relevant work experience and this number has been decreasing over the 4 years cited in the survey.
Obviously relevant work experience will give you an advantage over someone with unrelated experience. However, when you add the numbers above together, we see that 91% of employers prefer that applicants have at least some work experience.
Clearly some work experience is better than none. What you do is not as important as ensuring that you are doing something.
Why do employers care? Well, we can all draw our own conclusions but since employers hire candidates to perform a job, employers probably like to know that an applicant has demonstrated an ability to maintain commitment to other employers in the past.
And who can blame them? If you were going to pay someone money to do a job, wouldn’t you feel the same way?
There are real-world ramifications to believing that you need to spew “bullshit” in the direction of future supervisors, colleagues or clients. One is that it may cause us to marginalize your own work experience.
Although I don’t have data to back up this claim, it is important. In my day job, I speak with individuals who seek to improve their careers. Out of all those who I speak with, I estimate that an alarming 9 out of 10 undersell their skill set both on their resumes and in the way they talk about their professional experience.
Maybe the lack of recognition for the significance of what they have done in past roles is widespread. When we don’t see the importance of our past accomplishments, how can we ever relate them to our future? When we don’t see these things, it is possible that somewhere in the subconscious, many people truly feel they need to bullshit their way into a better job.
We all want to be special, and we are in many ways, but just because you are not an actress, a famous singer, or a stand up comedian yet doesn’t mean you don’t have valuable personality traits and skills.
“Positive thinking cannot help us do anything. But it can help us do everything better than negative thinking.” Zig Ziglar
We have all worked hard to get where we are in life in our own way. Comparing ourselves to others only causes feelings of inadequacy. No matter where you are in your career, it is okay. There is always room for growth.
Much of the negative thinking that comes from comparing ourselves to others is not only harmful, it is inaccurate. Why treat yourself this way? If we put negativity into our minds by assuming our past experience is so insignificant that any positive framing would be ‘bullshitting,’ we are not viewing ourselves with sobriety.
We are viewing ourselves harshly and worse, we are doing so without a trace of evidence.
What a disservice to ourselves!
As this Festers, it Grows
You may contend that “this is not life or death,” or that I’m “being overly alarmist about a simple joke.” I would agree with both of these statements. But this is not the point.
I am intentionally ringing the alarm bell because these attitudes largely go unnoticed.
There was a time when I thought it was funny, to talk about “BSing your way to success,” but after seeing so many people look down on themselves for no good reason, I am convinced that it is time to reverse course.
It is time to view things more realistically. It is time to view things more positively.
No one said that the factors that are instrumental in defining our lives are life or death. In fact, we all know life or death situations don’t determine our destiny.
Instead, we know that our thoughts turn into attitudes, which turn into behaviors, which inform the decisions we make that ultimately shape the direction of our lives.
Why not practice the following?
• BE PROUD of who you are, what you’ve been through, and eager to grow even more.
• ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE, instead of the negative. Most people naturally fixate on the negative and it is usually not even real!
• LEARN new things that challenge your conventional patterns of thinking.
• BUILD DEEP CONNECTIONS with others, not superficial, transactional relationships.
• BE AUTHENTIC, instead of malleable to the crowd that surrounds you at a given time.
We know that thoughts, attitudes, relationships, behaviors, and decisions are the factors that ultimately define our lives. None of these are life or death, but they are all significant. We must be vigilant.
• BE HONEST AND PERSUASIVE, not a bullshitter.
Your Destiny Awaits
“We become what we think about.” Earl Nightingale
The way we think of ourselves is of primary importance. This informs our self-esteem and impacts the level of confidence we put forward into our efforts.
Earl Nightingale has an outstanding interpretation of Napoleon Hill’s classic book, “Think and Grow Rich.” The YouTube video in which he dissects the message of the book is a self-help gem. The book is based on a mysterious lesson. If applied, both men proclaim that this lesson can make you a fortune but only if you think about the right things.
This is the strangest secret and bullshit need not apply to this secret.
That lesson relates deeply to what we think about. The power of the human mind is substantial.
Rich thoughts lead to rich outcomes.
Misleading thoughts mean we will live a lie.
Garbage thoughts mean we will live a wasted life.
If we believe we need to bullshit others, we will suffer our own consequences.
Look at where you currently stand in life. Did you get to where you are by bullshitting your way through life? Did the successful people who you know achieve success this way?
The bullshitters who succeed are the outliers. They are the exception, not the norm.
If we become what we think about, we must be vigilant about what we allow to influence our thoughts. So stop saying you need to harness the power of ‘bullshit’ to obtain your next job. It is a lie.
Instead, tell yourself that you can persuade others honestly. Test out the theory. Improvement and growth toward your goal will happen inevitably.
2 thoughts on “Stop calling Yourself a “Good BSer””
Good article, never bs it will bite you in the butt…