Aug 132016

People smile when I make fun of famous luxury brands and attach a “Triple A” after it. They know I am referring to knockoffs. Fakes. Replicas of expensive brands mostly French or Italian and the reason why they smile is because they know that there is a world of difference between the real thing versus the fake.

Everybody wants the real thing. But sometimes they are not willing to pay the price or maybe they cannot afford it, yet they want to be seen having it so they settle for knockoffs. They try to get away in impressing people with their “fakes.”

Do you know that I see people doing the same thing today but not with bags, shirts, shoes or watches, they do this online? They create an online persona which may be totally different from their offline personality.

The literal meaning of the word “Persona” in the Greek is to put up a mask. We have an online personality and an offline personality. “Persona” in Latin refers to a masked character played by an actor.

This is why I have always maintained that Facebook is a billboard and not a diary. Most people post good things in there but rarely can you see the real story behind the picture.

Marketing guru Martin Lindstrom says “This is understandable. We’re living in an era in which our online behaviors and communications are haunted by subtext and obfuscation. The German word “maskenfreiheit” can be translated into “the freedom conferred by masks,” and anyone who has ever spent time online knows that the ability to customize our digital selves, and our occasional online anonymity, creates personae that bear only a loose resemblance to the people we actually are, and the lives we actually live, when we’re offline. You might say that thanks to technology, we are all at least two people, with at least two residences: a bricks-and-mortar home and a homepage. Sometimes they overlap, but often they don’t.”

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Good actors and actresses take on the character of their roles. Some go in too deep and they cannot remove themselves from their screen roles and thus provide them with an identity crisis. This is why there were movie action stars in the past that would find themselves in bar fights as they think they are still immortal off camera. And that is not a good thing.

For a trainer and a speaker like me who is always on stage, there is always the temptation to put up with a persona that is different from the one that is off stage. And that is not a good thing.

There should always be a constant intentionality to remind one’s self that who he is on stage, online or onscreen should be the same person offstage, offline and off screen.

If this is not so then the person begins wearing masks and lives a duplicitous life. And then suddenly, the persona becomes more important than the person.

Truth is important and credibility is a must-have. Without which, life becomes unbearable. A life wrapped in lies is a stressful life to maintain.

There are many hindrances and obstacles to truth. A lie is not a cause it is just an outcome. What sacrifices truth is always “Image Management.” Wanting to protect the persona rather than projecting the truth of the person.

I remember one religious leader many years so telling me, “I have had many difficult situations before but I am never depressed.” “Really?” I thought to myself.

Even the greatest giants of the faith in their autobiographies would freely admit that depression hits them every now and then and that is why in their moments of weakness God’s strength is made perfect.

Young people create avatars online. Many adults and senior people in leadership have their own avatars too. They hide their true personality behind their titles and positions. They pay PR companies to spin their image, they write, give interviews and some even write books to enhance their image but the true person underneath the persona will never go away. And that is a stressful way to live.

Leaders increase their credibility when they show their vulnerability. Admitting they are wrong and saying sorry and asking help. This builds trust and their people will be more than willing to help them succeed. But leaders who create a personal of invincibility will find it hard to maintain their status. And once the truth leaks out the damage becomes huge.

Again, the hindrance to truth is not a lie. It is image management that leads to a lie. We need to be who we are doing the right things and doing it right even when nobody’s looking. And when millions of eyeballs are watching online their screen persona should also reflect the true person off line.

Sure it costs to be honest but then again the real thing costs a lot more than knockoffs. But sensibly speaking, you really cannot afford to live a life deprived of truth because as the old cliché goes, the truth will always be revealed.

(Bring your leaders to Makati Shangri-La Hotel and experience two inspiring days of leadership training with Francis Kong in his highly acclaimed and updated Level Up Leadership on Sept. 13-14. For further inquiries contact Jen of Inspire at +639178173736 or 6310912 or call April at +639285591798)

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