Are we embellishing or simply lying?
These days I can’t tell anymore. Actually I could never tell. I always took what people said at face value. I never thought people lied unless they really needed to.
Let’s take the example of a guy who recently told me about closing a deal with Blackstone, one the largest investment firms in the world. While I didn’t say anything immediately, I realized that Blackstone would never be involved in a deal like that. 17 years in the financial industry has me taught something; it’s taught me how to smell a blatant lie.
Another example is of a person who told me just recently that they got offered two million dollars for their company. Their company is a blog that was started 6 months ago on financial markets and stocks. It’s fun reading and somewhat informative but, certainly not that insightful to command that kind of valuation.
Now, this may not be a lie per se. The owner may have gotten an offer for a small stake in the company. But, I’m pretty sure the amount wasn’t what they claim. This is probably more of an embellishment.
Marketing or Misleading?
The world has come to a place where we take everything we read on Twitter or anywhere else to be the truth. People market themselves to sound more attractive; they twist statements to fit the narrative. If I were to do this with a financial product I was selling, I’d charged with mis-selling. It could be a criminal offense. If a Coke advertised that drinking their products could make you smarter, they’d be sued.
So why is it that when we post personal achievements on the Internet or market ourselves to people, we are allowed not only to embellish but also to lie?
A New Culture of Faking It
I can understand that for people starting out, embellishing even the smallest of achievements can help them get to the next level. But the problem is we are then left with a whole subset of people who are essentially following the mantra of “fake it till you make it.” The idea is to keep believing that you’re something and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But at what cost?
In their zeal to get ahead, people trade in learning and experience for pretending to know something. They think they will eventually learn. Which may be partially true but, on the whole they’re fundamentally weak. And this weakness will carry on for most in everything that they do.
At some point…it all catches up with you
Some people sail through life on their lies. They go on to possibly making a lot of money as well. But for most, it does catch up with them. Sooner or later they will realize that they’ve lost a lot of time not doing the work and they’re just not that good.
Even if it’s a lot of hard work and it seems like it’s taking too long to get to where you want, the journey is always well worth it. Eventually you will be the one who’s learned something. Eventually you will be the one who’s better than the rest.
A little embellishment may be okay… but where do we draw the line?