There’s a curse upon our industry.

It began as a rumble ….

Then it became a roar.

Now I fear it will engulf the world.

FOBY – Fear Of Being Yourself

Most of us have social accounts where we filter what we do or say in good ways or bad – but most of the time we are “editing” ourselves in order to ensure we communicate what we want the world to believe:

I’m cool.

I’m a great parent.

I’m smart.

I’m popular.

I’m funny.

I’m fit & healthy.

I’m spiritual.

And this has now spread into our business.

The same way the guy who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck, the rise of social media has created a rise in judgmental people.

We’re all conscious of what others might think of us … but never more than the way we are today – to the extent of not feeling free to be ourselves.

It used to be called (and maybe it still is) our “second life”, but the spread of social media has meant that our second life has started to take over our first and we are in constant fear of being found out … of being judged for what we have represented ourselves to be.

Because it’s not just on social media anymore. It’s in personal connections … yes, the real one-on-one, in person, face to face kinda stuff that is becoming rarer and rarer as the years go by.

There’s another fear that is related to FOBY and is often found close by.

FOBFO – Fear Of Being Found Out.

Sheryl Sandberg talks a bit about it in her book “Lean In”, but we’ve all felt it and we all see it every day.

Have you been promoted and are now scared @#$%less that you won’t measure up? That your weaknesses will be exposed?

Or you went for a job even though you didn’t really tick all the boxes?

If so, then it probably follows that you find yourself afraid to ask questions in a room full of colleagues or agency teams. You don’t want anyone to know what you don’t know.

Here’s the reality …. they’re probably bull@#$%ing too. James Crawley from Common Ventures shed some light on this in his recent article:

The side effects of this phenomena however are no laughing matter.

It’s affecting the work we do every day.

Because this feeling of constant FOBY … means that we aren’t able to have real conversations anymore.

The kind that result in meaningful outcomes

The kind that result in mutual respect, admiration, and us moving forward to create innovative, groundbreaking, epic work.

Because if we can’t be true to ourselves and risk being judged, then we can’t enjoy the benefit of embracing the possibility of what could be. We’ll always be trying to fit into what we can control …

As Seth Godin said, “The reason they want you to fit in is so they can ignore you”.

We need more people who aren’t willing to “fit in”.

People who are willing to take a leap of faith.

Smart people who are willing to say “I don’t know”.

Today, instead of putting up the façade that doesn’t allow us to be true to each other in our day to day conversations, have a real, meaningful, face to face interaction that lays it all out …

If you don’t agree with something, say so.

If you do agree, say so.

But whatever you do, don’t sit on the fence, trying to work out how what you say next will be judged before you say it.

Shed your FOBY

Shed your FOBFO

Take off that mask.

I guarantee that the conversation you have will open doors that you never thought possible.

DSC03625Adrianne Nixon is the founder of Legends & Leaders.

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