If you’re reading this, you are digitally adept (or addicted), and so have definitely heard and seen Dove’s latest natural beauty marketing ploy about the forensic artist they hired to pull out different facets of the same woman in two different portraits. For the sake of clarity, let me explain the experience. One side of the final dual portrait as it turns out, is the harsh reality as seen by the owner of the face being portrayed and the other is the face as described by a strangers’ interpretation after 5 minutes of friendly interaction. The shock of the women as they drink in the obvious kindness showed to them by others with no investment in them as compared to the harsh scrutiny they subjected themselves to is, as planned by the company, deeply moving. The question I want to focus on is why the reaction is so extreme, let alone the portraits.
Why do we constantly sell ourselves short? In school, I used to do the minimum amount of work so no one would expect too much of me and everything would stay easy, I would stay camouflaged and not stand out and not disappoint. I’m not proud of it, yet it’s a fact. Do we talk up our negatives so as not to disappoint others and provide a scenario where the only way is up? Or do we self deprecate because we are fishing for compliments or advice to make us feel better? It can be hard to be honest about the real reason we can’t own up to our own fabulousness, whatever brand it may be, whatever form it may take. Maybe you are suffering from years of hostile talk around your home and you are merely repeating what you heard so often you felt you had no choice to believe or not believe, it was ingrained in your psyche. Perhaps someone down played your own talents or passions to make themselves feel better or look more glamorous. Lastly, one of the hardest culprits to face down is the stark reality some people discover (or spend years hiding away through deflection), they are actually afraid of succeeding. What happens when the spotlight shines so bright, a person burns out? It’s hard to think you have reached a public place where you have proven yourself so hard for so long. Is the only progress from here on out actually down and out? Who wants to fade into obscurity? So, what’s the cure? How do we know what we feel inside, I’m talking about the good stuff, the passion, the talents, the gifts, etc., is worth sharing with the world, is worth the risk? I have an idea for a remedy.
When you want a job, what does any company worth working for require? Personal letters of recommendation, right? And, they’re not from casual acquaintances, you have to have at least a 5 year connection with them, the longer the better actually, other than family. It can be hard to ask for those golden tickets, unless you know for sure what is going to be inside. Plus those people might actually be called and have to back up what they wrote, it tends to increase the honesty of the letters. So, you choose someone who you know well enough to ask and maybe set up a little, program their layout, if you will. You make sure they know something along the lines of what job you are going for, what highlights you would like them to mention which would most benefit your career at this company, etc. So, here’s my challenge for you. Ask a friend, who’s known you at least 5 years, who isn’t family, to write a letter of recommendation. The job? Contributor to the human race. Specifics they should focus on would be what strengths you possess that make you a positive influence on the world around you. Oh, and ask them to seal it in an envelope. Here’s the caveat. You can’t read it. Yet. Your next goal is to write your own letter of recommendation, one for yourself and one for that friend, sealed in envelopes. Ask them to do the same, after they’ve written yours, before you switch envelopes. The tricky part is to be truthful and sincere, not fake or trying too hard. In letters of recommendation, we tend to exaggerate and talk up our abilities. What if your own self recommendation were to match what your long time friend wrote in all earnest intention?
Take me up on this challenge and I’m willing to bet you will be pleasantly surprised. Either your letters will match or you will find out facets of your personality and character which shine through to others you never even noticed were visible! If somehow you find out a flaw by some weird circumstance, all the better to know now! I would love to hear feedback on what you found out. This could start a whole new trend of encouragement! Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big! In fact, don’t stop there! Start writing letters of recommendation for other friends! Let them know their worth, how they stack up, what they do that makes you want to hang around them and walk away better for having spent time with them! Okay, go, write, then come back and tell me what happened!