Honesty as a Strategy
People are liars. They just fucking lie all the time. “This is how much traffic I do.” “I’m actually went to high school with [insert celebrity]“ “I got in to this college, this college and this college, but I inexplicably decided to go to [lesser college]“ “I’ve been with [this many] chicks” Most of the time, when people tell me anything about themselves, I just assume they are exaggerating–if not flat-out lying.
John Boyd forced all his acolytes to underestimate numbers when they were in their favor and be generous when they weren’t. And then when they were challenged, the real math only proved them more correct and made the bluff-caller look like an idiot. I figure that’s not a bad way to live your life. It’s certainly more moral to be honest. For instance, I don’t count any book as read if I didn’t go from cover to cover. I can’t say I run 5 miles a day anymore because I’ve reduced it to about 4 and started eating better–so you won’t see me say 5 unless that’s what the number is again. And as a added benefit, it pushes you to match your actions with the standing declarations you have made.
I assume most of the people who matter as as skeptical as I am. Because really, it’s just not probable that every single athlete I’ve ever talked to “won State.” [Really? What was the score of the New Hampshire Bowl?] So by being totally honest, you’re already being underestimated. And being overestimated is a short-term, ego-driven strategy.
When I was an agent–we would hear talk of other people. I have “14” listings, they’d say, or I did 6.9 million last month.
Then you’d look at the MLS stats, and query the database. 4 listings, 1.2 million.
And it was so disgustingly pervasive. Then one dude…I thought was a tool, because he wasn’t a glad handler…didn’t toot his own horn, was always there late.
Dude never talked, and to be honest, wasn’t as verbally smart as me.
But he figured out the game. I looked up his numbers one day, and learned for myself he was making seven figures. Silently.
So when do you look to write a book 😉
Love this post. I think there’s such a pressure to live up to your ideal image that it creates a false persona. You know its fake, but you do it to help live with your lack a accomplishments. Maybe this is why accomplished people are sometimes so humble.