Many years ago, when I embarked on my sales career, I learned the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’. This is a simplified way of saying smile through the ups and downs of sales. Sales is a lot like surfing. You paddle out and wait to catch a wave. Once you do, you ride it for as long as you can into shore. Eventually that wave crashes and you’ve got to swim out and start over again. In Sales, the waves are as constant as a day at the beach.
You have got to smile through it. It becomes a sign of strength. You smile and figure out a way around, over or under the obstacle to lead yourself out to the next opportunity and win. You do this because you know soon enough, the tide will turn and you’ll be on to your next opportunity, and wave. If you are in sales long enough, this mantra becomes a part of your life and your being.
When the waves keep crashing in your personal life, smiling through it becomes harder and harder. Soon after I was married, the verbal abusive began. It was slow at first. A lousy comment here. A mean comment there. I would smile broadly and say your words don’t matter. They’re just words. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. As the frequency increased, so did the intensity. And while I repeated that mantra in my head, guess what? The words hurt. I started to doubt my abilities. My confidence was being destroyed. I stopped talking in meetings for fear of being ridiculed for my ideas that were once considered insightful and smart.
The smile had been wiped from my face. I wondered if I would I smile again. Not just any smile, but the genuine smile I always wore, the happy smile that saw me through tough times. The happy smile that allowed me to put people at ease. The happy smile that made people want to be around me. Over time, I struggled to get back up. I kept trying to fake it and make it, and it was not working. I felt weak because I could not handle what was happening. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t fix it.
“Fake it Till you Make it” is right up there with “Never Let Them See you Sweat”. We all sweat. While we might admire someone’s ability to shake things off or not sweat, it is unhealthy to keep everything inside and hidden. I regret that I let pride get in the way of dealing with what was happening to me, both at home and inside. Things happen for a reason and my experiences have led me to a better place however, upon occasion, I wonder how things might have been different if I had handled things differently.
We live in a complex world where through technological advancements, we are vulnerable in ways we never expected. We’re hooked on social media and experiences. We ignore our neighbors and those around us. What happened to the concept of making eye contact and offering a smile? This simple act can have a positive, uplifting effect on someone who might be struggling inside.
Pay attention to the people in your life: neighbors, colleagues and loved ones. If they don’t seem ok, ask if they are alright. Keep asking from time to time until you get a sense that things are actually ok. It was this act of kindness from a near stranger that started my journey to recovery and freedom from the emotional and verbal abuse. We are not alone in this world and were never meant to be. You can help someone too.
I have a smile on my face every day now. The Smile. And when I catch the wave and it crashes, I smile and get back up.
When working with my clients, I advise on ways to find outlets for release, whether it’s a therapist, journaling or perhaps it’s learning something new to build confidence. Keeping the negative inside will eat away at you, your confidence, sense of self and overall well-being. We are in control of our destiny.
It is vitally important to find a way to release the negative thoughts so that the positive thoughts have room to grow.