Whether it’s selling dreams of Forex riches or creating a desirable lifestyle brand, the online nature of much of our interactions today means that you can present yourself, your product or your business as almost anything you want. It is the old adage of ‘Fake it until you make it’ taken to a whole new level, but what is interesting is that most of the time, we can see the fake bit, often very clearly.
We’ve all seen the ads, a Ferrari pulls up outside an expensive house, and the star trader climbs out, bedecked in the finest clothing, usually with a Rolex on their wrist. ‘All this can be yours if you buy my product’, they shout. They know it’s fake, you know it’s fake, but still thousands of us every day convince ourselves that the promise is real.
What is really being sold here isn’t the flash car or the house, not even the watch, it’s the hope that there is a quick fix, an easy shortcut to get you to the place you want to be. I recently saw an Instagram ad that turned this on its head, as the man carefully explained the car was rented and the private plate a fake stuck on, the watch was a fake and the nice house was a friend’s place he borrowed for the video.
It’s clever, by showing the duplicity of others, he instantly puts himself in a position of honesty, building trust. In a world of liars, telling the truth can be revolutionary, to paraphrase what some claim Orwell once said, and this approach is one that has a lot going for it. But it also raises two questions, why are we almost falling over ourselves to believe what we know is fake, and does this reversal of pointing out the lies help in any way?
Life is hard. Achieving anything takes a lot of time and effort. But our time is increasingly in short supply, there has never been more demand on us to achieve more in less, and the result is that we are always looking for a way to get to the finish line of any project as fast as possible. That is why when someone comes along and says look, I’ve got it all and you can too, we always want to believe it. Even when it is clearly not real, we want there to be a shortcut so badly, that our own minds work to ignore everything shouting out that this is just fantasy, so we can buy into it and hope for a shortcut to that success.
But what does the reverse do? It first avoids that trap of convincing ourselves the fantasy is real, because he says it is fantasy, right there in front of us. It reminds us that there are rarely, if ever, shortcuts to achieving anything worthwhile. There is hardship along the way, and you can’t just appear fully formed as the finished successful person. You need to learn along the way and put in the hard work to get you to the top in whatever you have in mind.
But does the reversal approach really do that? Is it a motivator or a demotivator? Even the most motivated person you know needs goals to work towards, something to focus on. The fake approach sells a dream, but the reverse shatters it, and in the long run, neither really do much for you to stay motivated to get where you want, and deserve, to be. Breaking that cycle of dream and ultimate disappointment is a very good outcome though, so there is value in this disparaging approach. Ultimately though, motivation needs to come from within. Your dreams, your ideas, your hope, they are the things that keep you going when it is tough.
No Instagram ad will ever give you those. It is you who decides your future, take ownership, take responsibility and that motivation will be there for you every step of the way, however hard it gets.