One of the fondest memories I have of my Dad is our Wednesday nights together when I was a child. It was his responsibility to take me to my saxophone lesson in the early evening – but after that, we would not go home until we had fun. That usually meant fast food and video games, and that was always fine with me. My Dad’s responsibility was to be the leader, and he chose to take me somewhere fun.
What kind of a job are we doing today as leaders? If you are reaching out and communicating, you are seeking some kind of response, some kind of call-to-action. And putting a call-to-action out there carries with it responsibility, it is an act of leadership.
And there are all kinds of leaders out there in the blogosphere. It is not always easy for me to join the ranks of these leaders. And do you want to know what one of the main reasons is? Well… selfies. Self-portrait photos bother me. Do they bother you?
Selfies – good or evil?
I am not always comfortable with having pictures of me online. This may sound like some kind of grand humility, but at the root of it is me avoiding responsibility. When your image is attached to something – like this blog – it increases your perceived responsibility for it. In fact, not having selfies can be a source of pride. I have been cautious in putting my image out there over the years, but the motive wasn’t always humility. Holding on to your image can prolong a sense of lack of fulfillment, and thus entitlement.
I remember having to do band photos with the various bands I’ve played in. I think I always tried to use a photo of something other than my face. That’s the case even with my current band. I recently read an interview with Daft Punk about how they’ve succeeded in hiding their faces for years. It was pretty inspiring stuff. And you know what? That’s great, for artists. If you want to hide behind your art and let it do the talking, I’m all for it. But don’t expect it to lead anybody anywhere. Don’t expect any social change, or revolution, for that matter.
I don’t think that selfies are a sign of arrogance. Chris Brogan is a guy who does a whole lot of selfies. But he’s still humble, because he respects other people. He puts his image out there because he is an active leader, and one way to get “face time” with your followers is to post your photo online. I’ve written to him on two different occasions and got an immediate response each time. That’s a 100% instant response rate. Not bad for a guy who has 293,534 followers on Twitter.
Freak the format
You want to put your image out there, but don’t fake it till you make it. I’ve heard that too many times – it erodes trust and develops unrealistic expectations. Instead, to borrow a line from LA Symphony, “freak the format.” I.e., use your imagination to make your profile pic, your platform, your blog post as great as it can be – for yourself and others. That’s leadership. We want people to lead us with the promise that we’ll have fun following them.
Or in the words of Chris Brogan:
Don’t fake it till you make it. Believe in yourself until the world catches up.
So yeah, go out and get in front of what you stand for, and if you need a LinkedIn profile picture for that, then get it done.
* Image courtesy of Mitchelaneous.com.