It’s the time of year when we are bombarded with “How to be Better / Smarter / Richer / More Efficient” articles, and I’ve had enough. I have been re-inventing on a global scale for the last ten years, and all it’s got me is tired, cranky and more aware of my own cellulite. Reinvention means that someone, somewhere is giving us a ‘C’ grade, and to make it worse, they are telling us lies. Every damn year..
1. We worship false images. One only has to watch the MissRepresentation video to realize just how susceptible we are to external influences – and they are no longer outside our homes, but are streamed in constantly via the TV, internet and even product packaging. Our idea of normal has changed, and we are intent on achieving a perfection that only exists in marketing storyboards. And it goes way beyond our physical appearance – now it’s the car we buy, the way our houses are decorated, whether our children are tall, muscular, acne free and getting perfect grades while setting up non-profits.. It never ends. But here’s the kicker – as Cindy Crawford famously said “Even I don’t look like Cindy Crawford”. It’s all an illusion, and we’re falling for it hook, line and sinker.
2. The harder we try, the more likely we are to fail. Robert Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, points out that the minute we try to deny ourselves something, the more importance we give to it, and the greater the likelihood we will do exactly what we are trying not to. Parents realized years ago that if you want to avoid the toddler tantrums, distraction and reward is a far more powerful tool than denial. Perhaps if George Clooney made an exercise video, I might be a little more motivated..
3. It’s easier to follow than to lead. The easiest way to learn a new skill is to have someone skilled to teach you, but throughout our school life we have been taught (notice the irony here?) that copying is cheating. Yet watching and replicating behaviors is how the animal kingdom has evolved since life began, and it is by far the most efficient way of learning. So let’s raise a glass to all those who happily share their expertise on YouTube, online or in person, for no other reward than to help those of us blundering away in the dark.
4. 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. The rest is just wasted in the hopeless quest for a perfection that we have already established does not exist. I was horrified to discover that in my son’s school, to get an ‘A’ you have to score over 90%. When did that happen? In my school days, a mere 75% got you there, and if your grade was above 80%, you were hailed as the next Einstein. I’m with Pareto, and I’m saving my 80% for the good stuff.
As you may already have guessed, this year, I’m not re-inventing. Instead, I’m ReBranding. I’m not going for slimmer, smarter or richer, I’m going for more interesting, and if I have to lie to do it, so be it. I’ve realized that I’m not perfect, and there’s plenty of room to change, but actually, I quite like me the way I am. I’ve spent every New Year for as long as I can remember planning to be different, and like me, it’s getting a bit old. So I reserve the right to appear in public in my pyjamas, to wear inappropriate clothing to parents’ evenings, and to refuse to attend lunches where only salad is served.
Here’s what I’m proposing for 2012. This year, we aim low. We ignore the stuff we don’t like, and just cut straight to the dessert menu. We spend less time pleasing people we don’t even know, and more time having fun with people who love to laugh with us, however ridiculous we look. We recognise that most efforts above 20% are wasted. We learn to salsa, where copying is encouraged. We learn to use Photoshop, and use it ruthlessly for both good and evil.
This year, we’re Good Enough.