Last week, as we were on a boat in the middle of the ocean watching whales migrate north, I noticed as everyone started pulling out their phones and cameras most were not facing out towards the water but rather towards their own face with the ocean setting as the backdrop of their selfie. While watching these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, I found myself also observing the behavior of humans.
I recently saw on the news a study that researchers had done on the rapid increase of anxiety and depression among young people. One of the largest contributing factors was cited as the selfie-obsessed culture we all find ourselves navigating through.
While technology has made it possible to see friends or family across the world with the touch of a button, it has also created a culture of perfection wrapped up in a single photo, in the number of “likes.” It has added another layer to the dialogue that we as parents need to have with our children about worth and value.
But, adults are not immune.
A friend of mine reached out several weeks ago asking for advice on growing her social media, particularly Instagram. She was considering using an app that would instantly grow her audience. My first question back to her was, “what is your goal in doing so?” She was focused more on the amount of people as opposed to the message. I challenged her and asked, if the goal was to truly influence and change lives, wasn’t it more important to find the right people as opposed to quickly boasting a big number? I was very honest and told her it would take time and effort, but that if her intention was truly about the message and less about herself, time shouldn’t be an issue.
The dichotomy of the world we currently find ourselves living in. We want instant gratification and have lost the fine art of patience. We measure our success based on quickly gaining numbers as opposed to those truly affected by our message. At the end of the day, if our goal is really to make an impact, shouldn’t the expectation be that change takes time? Authentic growth doesn’t happen overnight. The value of the message should be weighted in the change it creates not the time it takes to get there.
Years ago, as I would sit down to have an initial meeting with a client, I would always ask them about their wish list, their goals. Back then, the response was always, “I want to be on Oprah.” The reality was that it wasn’t going to happen for every single client. I became very well-versed in expectation management.
The same can now be said about social media and our self-obsessed culture. The expectation of perfection or being able to boast large numbers of followers. Is it self-gratification or is it being an agent for change? That is a question only you can answer.
I find myself navigating through this conversation on a variety of levels, both with clients and as a reminder to myself.
Starting over is hard. It can often bring up insecurities, questions about your professional value, and what the future might look like. I have had to challenge myself to remember my worth and that it isn’t wrapped up in numbers, but is about vision and change. I have had to be diligent about letting these things guide me, one foot in front of the other. Allowing myself to celebrate the small achievements that can be found in each day.
Life isn’t about the number of “likes” or followers. Life is about the impact you are making each day you wake up, doing so with purpose and with passion. Allowing time to unveil your next step.
As we sat for hours watching whales, we lost track of time. There was no expectation for when one might breach the water or change the course and direction they were traveling. We just watched.
This week, let’s challenge ourselves to put down the screens and let go of what we think the world should look like and allow ourselves to see it without expectation. Find your value outside of “likes,” followers, or instant gratification.
Slow down and let time do what it is supposed to. It may set you on a path that is even better than the one you find yourself on today.
Cheers to a new week!