What Google Can Teach Us About Self-Image

what google can teach us about self imageSelf-perspective is one of the hardest things to understand. I mean, it seems simple enough on the surface; it’s merely what you think of yourself. But many times we don’t see that how we view ourselves can affect our successes as a professional/parent/circus clown/etc. Maxwell Maltz put it best when he said

Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment.

There’s nothing more dangerous or helpful to your individual success than high self-image. Many have failed miserably at fostering high self-image, while others have risen like fresh cream straight ‘outta the udder.

Companies are the same way. A company with positive self-image is going to be around for a while, and one such company has shown what it truly means to be confident in their product. Love or hate them, Google is an excellent example of masterful self-image.

1. You don’t have to change to fit in. Google knew what they were: a great search engine. Yet instead of tinkering with the latest thing, the continued to improve their bread-winning product, Google Search (I know, I know… do I really need to link to Google?!). Sure, they could have kept fiddling with new technologies early on, trying to stay relevant and trendy like the other search engines. But as Bush Sr. put it so eloquently, they “stayed the course“.

2. Become insanely successful at one thing, and use your confidence to branch out. This is almost straight from number one. Larry, Sergey and the gang kept at refining their central product until it was the best. Only then did they say a collective “booyah!” and branch into many other arenas like contextual advertising, feed readers, as well as every other aspect of our digital lives.

3. Not too fast, now (aka the “whoa nelly”). You can’t rush perfection, people. It took Google quite a long time before they started looking at other projects. If they had run around chickens with their heads cut off trying to create the “next best thing”, they would have squashed any possibility of creating one truly amazing thing.

Positive self-image is a lot like that: You don’t have to rush things. Make the world wait on you for once.  You have to believe what you’re doing is worth waiting for.

(Note: Interestingly, Google is taking the headless chicken approach these days with all of their acquisitions and new products, but they appear to have simmered down and focused more on features.)

4. Always act like you know what you’re doing. I just had to throw this one in for fun. Google will lead you to believe that they’ve known what they were doing from day one. Ok, come on… this is impossible. Believe it or not, they have screwed up before. They have had growing pains. But so does everybody.

It can be a great strategy to cover your insecurity with a fig leaf of bravado. It’s OK to occasionally act like you know what you’re doing, even if you really don’t. Come on, just stick out your chest, throw up your head and make a fool of yourself proclaim to the world that you might definitely know what you’re doing.

Really, we can form our self-image (kudos to Google) in one word: Confidence. Be confident enough not to rush, or sell out, and you can even act like you know what you’re doing (when you really don’t) from time to time.  Walk like you know you’re the best thing to hit the block since Google, and you’ll be fine…

Leave a Comment

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Diane Kuprewicz July 28, 2010, 10:06 am

    I think Google search engine only allows strangers / people to search for NEGATIVE written self-images of other people.

    Especially in the workplace you find certain spiteful snooping employees searching online trying to find any dirt on another employee to get him or her fired even if this employee is not the webmaster of the negative information surfacing up in Google’s search engine.

    Google never removes negative information.


    Because Google says to contact the webmaster that created the website.

    But you know what?

    The webmaster does not want to remove the negative information.

    So in the end its still there.

    Google doesn’t help in any way.

    So you can go on saying Google has a good self image but I disagree.

    I think Google is a horrible company because they can’t help those that desperately need to remove negative content surfacing up in Google’s search engine.

    • glen July 28, 2010, 10:07 am

      Hey Diane,

      Yeah, that article was written a while back. Things have happened lately that kind of change my perspective of the Big G since then. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • baker19 January 8, 2010, 1:06 am

    Excellent post here. I really like the act you know what you are doing part, it really does get your momentum going, and pretty soon are where you wanted to be.

  • chaohlin July 20, 2009, 5:23 pm

    I feel most people are already expert at doing this, doing the opposite might be more resourceful.

  • chaohlin July 20, 2009, 1:23 pm

    I feel most people are already expert at doing this, doing the opposite might be more resourceful.

  • Lorraine Weiler May 19, 2009, 1:52 pm

    We can also learn alot form L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology on how to build confidence and open ones mind to how the world really operates. I am much more confident now than what i was 8 years ago before I got into Scientology.

  • Mary-xn January 19, 2008, 12:31 am


  • Justin August 6, 2007, 10:51 pm

    I agree with what this article says, it is hard to take seriously with all the typos. Proofreading!

  • glen June 6, 2007, 9:54 am

    Excellent points Sean! Yeah, they do kind of have a playful feel, don’t they? I mean, the Google campus has all sorts of fun things: sand volleyball, etc.

  • Sean Kelly June 6, 2007, 7:48 am

    They teach airline mechanics 1) Act like you know what you’re doing, and 2) Don’t etch your name on your tools. That way if the plane goes down, they don’t know which moron left his wrench in the engine. (Surgeons probably learn the same thing).

    Glen: Thanks for a good post and list. To add to it, I also think the playful daily “GOOGLE” letters communicate that they don’t take themselves too seriously and are willing to have some fun with their users. A little creativity goes a long way…

  • glen June 5, 2007, 11:34 am

    Very interesting Mark. It doesn’t surprise me… I’ve never met an indecisive doctor.

  • Mark Shead June 5, 2007, 7:34 am

    Always act like you know what you are doing.

    It is my understanding that they teach doctors this in med school. The idea is that it is going to be much more difficult to help patients get better, if they don’t think their doctor knows everything.