We’ve all met that person who makes an impression on you the first time you meet them. But then you spend more time with them and realize you like them a bit less. Spend enough time with them and you may even realize they are nothing like you first thought. Perhaps someone comes to your mind as you even consider this thought. I remember years ago getting the chance to meet an author who I held in high regard (and read everything he wrote, sometimes multiple times) only to discover that I didn’t like him or want to spend time with him after I met him in person.
Contrast that with the person who may underwhelm you when you meet them but then keeps intriguing you somehow. Maybe a friend of yours speaks highly of them or you know them by reputation and you’re trying to figure out what others see in them. Then you start to see it yourself little by little each time you’re with them. The longer you know them the more you like them. Perhaps someone comes to your mind in this category too.
I bet you view these two types of people very differently.
I want to be the second type of person (which is made somewhat easier for me by the fact that I can tend to be awkwardly introverted when meeting new people and therefore struggle to wow anyone at first impression). But more than that, I’m drawn to people who continue to show you a greater depth of character, intellect, personality, and perspective as you get to know them more. I want to be that for others as well.
In his book The $100 Startup (see: Amazon link), Chris Guillebeau explains three options we have when it comes to how we navigate this.
- Style without substance = flash (No one respects these people.)
- Substance without style = unknown (Everyone who knows these people respects them, but not many people know them.)
- Style with substance = impact (This is the goal.)
The first person creates a lot of flash and then quickly dissolves. The second person will impress you more and more in time, but you may never get the chance to know them. Guillebeau offers a third option where we learn to balance our style and our substance together to achieve a greater impact. Most of us probably lean naturally toward one end of the spectrum. But if we want to be the type of person who impacts others with our life and what we do, we need to find ways to navigate this.
Joey Roth offers the following visual image of the same idea (also found in the book above):
Now, I perhaps would offer a different name for the image on the right, but you get the idea. I also found his scale of work vs talk (compared to style vs substance) to be helpful as well. The charlatan is all style and no substance (all talk no work). The martyr is all substance and no style (all work no talk). The difficulty—especially in the world of social media—is to strike the right balance of work and talk, style and substance.
Which way do you lean?
- Do style and talk come naturally to you? Your challenge is to find ways to work on developing substance that no one else will see, even if it seems like a waste of energy.
- Do substance and work come naturally to you? Your challenge is to find ways to share something you are creating with others, even if it makes you a bit uncomfortable.
The world needs more balanced people contributing all that we each have to offer.
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