The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
As sayings go, it’s an oldie, but a goodie. If you look around you right now (metaphorically), or scroll through your social media feeds, you will no doubt find people who are “squeaky.” They are masters at self-promotion, and are always eager to let you know about their latest exploits and successes.
There is certainly nothing wrong with tooting your own horn, and lots of people will probably consider you to be successful.
I have to admit, I’m sometimes envious of those people. I have struggled with tooting my own horn my whole life. It’s not that I don’t consider myself successful. I do. I am incredibly happy with my life, and I know I’m a success. I just choose not to talk about my successes all the time; I share them somewhat self-consciously.
I just have always believed that someone else labelling me as an “expert” was much more powerful than me calling myself an “expert.” Do I consider myself an expert in my field? Of course! I’ve dedicated the last 7 years of my life to social media, immersing myself, constantly learning. And I am translating that learning all the time via this blog and the classes I teach. I want my work to speak for itself. I want, seeing as we’re overusing cliches today, the proof to be in the pudding. There are tons of people out there who call themselves “social media experts,” and only have 125 Twitter followers. I don’t consider that to be proof.
Having said that, someone can have 10,000 followers, and still not truly be an expert in their field. If they amassed those followers organically, over time, then perhaps they are, but it’s so easy to purchase followers these days. Numbers equal social proof in this new world, but numbers are easily bought. We have to be even more careful these days, even more aware and discerning. Don’t believe everything you read (unless you read it here, of course! ;-))
The thing is, this world is seductive. We’re pioneers, it’s theWild West, and there’s gold in them thar hills. Becoming a social media expert seems like the latest “get rich quick” scheme, and there are certainly people out there who are getting rich. But many of them are doing it by making money off of the other people that want to get rich.
As a blogger, it’s hard sometimes, because I see my friends get invited to fancy events that I didn’t get invited to, or get offered products or swag that I didn’t, or is not appropriate for my niche blog (I recently turned down a $300 coffee maker!). But when I step back and look at the big picture, I realize that there are lots of opportunities that come my way that they don’t get offered.
Basically, if you are in this industry, you can’t compare yourself to anyone. Ever. That way lies crazymaking. I know lots of people thrive on competition, but the only person I want to be competing with is myself. And I don’t want to get so wrapped up in getting to the next level that I don’t stop and enjoy the amazing things that are happening to me right now–at this level. The awesome people I’ve met, the wonderful meals I’ve enjoyed, and the cool stuff I get for free because of my blog. That stuff is awesome, and I’m immensely grateful for it.
So. I’m not going to play that social media game anymore. Simply put, I can never win it. As long as I compare myself to others, I’m just going to feel unhappy and unfulfilled. And life is too short to be unhappy and unfulfilled. I would rather choose to go my own path, make my own way, and invent my own success.
And for me, success has is about creating value with everything I do. Even if you never give me one cent your entire life, I still want you to feel like I am someone who fits into the category of “useful” rather than “just more noise.” To me, that’s success.
I was never great at following the crowd, anyway…