Self-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…