Feeling Like a Fraud

Last week I was in Morocco for the Big 5-0 birthday of a very special friend. I loved celebrating her and sharing photos of this occasion. The trip, and my photos—if I do say so myself—were so cool, I started getting a lot of messages to “keep ‘em coming!”

I posted the photo (above) on Instagram which was the culmination of the several-day event filled with belly dancers, bright lights, smiles, and a HUGE cake.

I kept taking pictures, posing for other people, and posting on demand.

But amidst all of the fun, I started feeling like a fraud.

Because here’s what I didn’t share: Twenty-four hours before this photo was taken, I was stuck in my hotel room, sicker than I’ve ever been in my life.

Trust me, you don’t want the details.

That’s when I realized I was a small part of a big problem.

I was guilty of manufacturing an image that was the exact opposite of what had been real just the day before.

And when I thought about the world that my kids and all of us are living in, the FOMO, the views into people’s “seemingly” perfect lives, I realized I didn’t feel good about it.

So when I decided to call myself out on IG, to be a little vulnerable and share the reality about a few different things going on in my life, I was blown away by the feedback.

People called (Yep! Picked up the phone), wrote, and texted, thanking me for my willingness to “be real” and to remind people that our “social” life typically only shows the shiny parts.

This is also true in the workplace.

As our work and personal lives are increasingly intertwined, a little vulnerability and a willingness to be real goes a LONG WAY—especially if you’re a leader.

You may not think people are projecting onto you, but I assure they are.

How can I be so sure?

Because they’re human.

While I would never want to go back to March of 2020, I don’t want to completely forget what I saw and how I felt. We were all more real; we had no choice! Kids and pets running around in the background of our new-fangled Zoom rooms, spouses and roommates reaching into the fridge. While the stress was really high, many employees shared with me that they felt more connected than ever to their leaders and their organizations.

And employee engagement in those companies was through the roof.

So as we approach the three-year anniversary of the pandemic, which I *cannot* believe, I invite you to step out from behind the curtain long before the wizard did in the Wizard of Oz.

Everyone will thank you because a little vulnerability (especially these days) goes a long way.



(This article was originally posted to Erica’s newsletter subscribers. Used with permission. To sign up for Erica’s insights, CLICK HERE.)


Erica Keswin

Erica is a highly sought-after workplace strategist and coach with 25 years of hands-on experience and two Wall Street Journal bestselling books. She is a trusted guide for companies worldwide looking for ways to connect their teams, increase engagement, and create a human workplace. Erica will be a keynote speaker a Leadercast 2023: Human Intelligence.

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