We Can Look Back, But Let’s Not Stare

Welcome to the Failure Hall of Fame.

I used to hate my history class at High School. No interest, zero relevance, and who cares? History is full of failure and strife. Story after story of revolutions, plagues, famine, wars and pestilence. Crashes, and more crashes, one step forward and half-a-dozen back. Discord. Dissention. Epic fails.

But study it we do. Heck, there are very erudite departments of the stuff at major educational establishments worldwide. Well done. And now, I love it.

Those who work with their own episodes of failure will gain a sense of acceptance that allows them to process their experiences, learn from them, and move on without guilt. How many of us experience the success of failure with a deep feeling of shame for how we have lived?

Just think about it for a moment.

How many of us are confused about what we have done, and what that might mean about who we are?

In improving my self-awareness, I have the incredible opportunity to connect with others through the sharing of my past failings. Experience and understanding tells us we should not want to shut the door on it. When we embrace our past and learn how to see it in a new way it opens new entries for the future. It has for me.

You may have heard the saying, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” That is one of the main reasons we are told to remember our last failure. This belief tells us we can face our past, not live in any shame about it, and not run away from or deny it. Our past does not have to define us, who we are, or how we live our lives. We see this come alive every time someone in our lives tells their story of “failure experiences” with their head held high.

There is the time-tested adage that we “are as sick as our secrets.” The secrets we carry around with us that weigh us down. The same secrets that we promised we would take with us to our grave. Maybe we can be free, truly free, from the chains of the past that haunt us.

Let me be clear. Disruption is everywhere. We are people who have messy, three-dimensional, and often stress-filled lives. Every single circumstance that a traditional, past-way of living we had been able to count on to protect our behavior over the decades, has been upended. Untidy, chaotic, muddled and disordered.

The discomfort of the truthiness of my self-realization was to appreciate that I lived in a constant state of instability, and that I cannot possibly help others, at least to the best of my ability, when my own stability and assuredness is on shaky ground.

But I have found that the antidote to stress, or feeling over-whelmed, is not more sleep, not more rest, or to turn-away, but is a commitment to whole-heartedness. So, for me, it was a whole-hearted effort that was required to develop and full and attentive heart and mind.

I come from a Celtic heritage where all of our love songs are sad, and our war-songs are happy. And importantly, my new way has taught me, not to celebrate any battle-victories, or wins associated with my past ill-fated behavior-isms, but to stand self-assuredly amid the gritty combative confusion of times past.

And it’s true, that my life is built not around consistent, continued success, or who has won-through, but is a foundation that helps me stand there with a sense of self, in the midst of defeat and loss. Who can sing when they are grieving, who can know the story from which they’ve come, and tell it no matter how difficult and fierce the origin of that story is? What a cherished gift it is to celebrate and to ‘sing’ with quiet, reasoned humility at the end of each day.

The reason that living in the now, just for today, occupies such an astonishing place in my life is that it represents a chance to celebrate during such incredible difficulty. And I need to know how to do that.

Living in uncertain times, I need some kind of assured presence which is independent of my past outside accomplishments, regardless of how conflicting they may be, and a new sense of happiness, of self-achievement which is instructive and resides independently of any definition of what it means to be successful.

It is often enlightening to hear at a memorial service of a friend or family member, once the more formal reflection on how they lived their life and the recitations of all their accomplishments have been shared, which is just a prelude to hearing what they held in their true affections, what they truly treasured and loved.

The atmosphere then quickens when you hear what they really loved, and what they held in their affections – the home-made telescopes, the sense of humor that kept the meetings alive at work, the outings with the grandchildren, the times together on the back-porch – and you realize that what you learn when someone goes out of their life, is the loss of what they actually loved. Everything else is like chaff that is blown away. The embodiment of a grand life is a sum of what they held in their true affections.

You only have to know what you hold in your affections, what a first priority is for you, and then live your life as an emblem of faith in that belonging. By sharing the richness and abundance of our failures provides a therapeutic release that so emancipates us from our past and, more importantly, provides us with the gift of pure gratitude to share with others.

My approach (and the accompanying required work-effort) for living for today has helped me better understand that it is this natural gravity of well-belonging that is the secret key to self-compassion.

 

MaxCo Advisors

November 5th 2108

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Welcome to The New Economy of Optimism

We’ve felt it for a while – disruption is everywhere, and every single condition and dynamic that traditional marketing companies had been able to count on to protect their dominance over the past several decades has been upended. Moreover, we are people who also have messy, three-dimensional, and often stress-filled lives. Every single circumstance that a traditional, past-way of living I had been able to count on to protect my behavior, has been upended. Untidy, chaotic, muddled and disordered.

I’ve never felt it more than I feel it today.

The following piece contains some reflections on The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s latest study, “The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy”, which was released earlier this year at their Annual Leadership Meeting.

Colleen DeCourcy, Chief Creative Officer at Wieden + Kennedy was asked to address IAB attendees on “How to Build a 21st Century Brand” and provide the agency perspective in response to this research. Her perspective, “Welcome to Optimism: Brand Building in a Post-Advertising World” is summarized in the post below.

It’s brilliant, read on.

Disruptive innovation is one of the most misunderstood concepts in modern business. It’s rooted in just one thing: more people having access to tools that used to be available only to people with lots of money or skill. The printing press put the monks out of business, the camera put portrait painters out of business, iPhones took cameras out of business, and Instagram took Kodak out of business. And there’s Uber.

Progress is direct access to the means of getting to an end. A shortening of the distance from A to B. Each step, friction taken out of the process. This one thing is the biggest thing we need to remind ourselves of every day.

Chance The Rapper didn’t need a record label. In fact, records didn’t need a record store, and music didn’t need records. Chance was just “taking the friction out of the process.”

Hollywood looked at digital disruption and cried “Please defend us! This will kill creativity.” But it didn’t.

Serialized content had a creative renaissance. The removal of friction through the audio and video content delivered over the Internet (OTT, Netflix subscription, etc.), and use of data actually intensified Hollywood’s creative output. It’s also quite possible that a weakened studio system will bring an end to the power dynamic that is at the root of sexual harassment. Maybe.

It’s hard to let go of something that has worked, that you like and that you’ve built a massive amount of infrastructure around. Not unlike Hollywood or, even big advertising or research and insights infrastructures are all victims of the same logic.

Bigger buildings for more people with more departments and more workflow to handle the global scale of a rush of product that creates endless exponential growth for the stock market. Turns out it that was wrong.

More delivery, less friction.

That’s the challenge we all have in front of us.

So, to recap the situation:

  • Changes at the top. It’s almost a completely different shape of market. We moved from a market of things to a market of systems.
  • Changes at the bottom. Size is no longer your friend. It’s hampering reinvention to match the shape of the market, and competition is coming from everywhere.

This unprecedented access to the means of production has accelerated and created The New Economy.

Look, great insights and advertising can still drastically change the fortunes of a brand, New Economy or old. But, there’s no role for mediocre work anymore. Where advertising and insight hasn’t gone data-driven and friction-less, the job has gotten harder.

The upside however, can be huge.

What we have learned is that to build anything on top of what we have now is a fool’s errand. A lot of the current infrastructure of marketing amounts to friction. If Direct to Consumer (D2C) companies have taught us anything, it is this:

  • Any move that isn’t in the direction of nimbleness, emotional intelligence, transparency and collaboration, is building in the wrong direction.

There is no way to un-see this once you’ve seen it. Fear is the enemy of innovation (action).

It appears that brand building for a more-than-a-five-year horizon may be a luxury brief, and even for New Economy companies, a direct model is not a guarantee of long-term success.

Loyalty is hard to find. Many of these D2C companies have gone through their own white-knuckle days. The Glossiers and the Outdoor Voices, and the Warby Parkers are not just internet companies that figured out supply chain and targeting.

They are ideas. They also live offline. They create content. They make meaningful gestures. They capture their audience. The biggest difference is they do it without massive infrastructure. The implications for marketers are seismic. We used to invest in advertising and brand-building to raise awareness and drive sales in physical stores.

Now we don’t.

Rising to the expectations of New Economy clients put bruises on every shin in our respective businesses, and then some. Some of us have started to move forward, forging relationships with direct and digital brands, companies that are setting the pace for business going forward: Airbnb, Lyft, Instagram, Spotify, Harry’s, SmileDirectClub.

At the same time, we need to work with and help companies who are doing the hard work of evolving for the new realities of business, and marketing, and winning.

This is the New Economy core stack – it rounds out the move from mass target audience reach to individual precision on a mass scale. So easy to say (and write) but hard to actually do.

It puts direct-to-consumer brands into shared culture where memories live, and values are appreciated, and here, data is a form of empathy. It’s how we find truth in a non-monolithic culture.

There is still a zeitgeist that 21st century marketing is about humanity. People are more interested, and willing to play with brands than they ever have been. They also expect more from brands than they ever did.

The brands that are audience-centric - human centric – that are focused on creating value for people, that combine tech with human insight and empathy, and that look at their people as more than consumers – they are the ones we will mark in history as the 21st Century Brands.

Optimism lives there. But they will also use “the work” to do something bigger. Work that creates conversation and lives in the real world not the marketing world. Brands that are ideas have so much more permission to engage.

Everything and anything a brand can do to work with consumers in their world will thrive. There really are no limits. Media doesn’t dictate the terms. Culture does.

Old process, new process. So, let’s talk about ride-sharing. It matters how you get there.

A Silicon Valley D2C company doesn’t really need insights (or an agency who gets that)…until it has a competitor. One of the first things ride-share companies needed to do was create a connection to their most important constituency — their drivers.

Companies like Lyft and Uber don’t own their biggest assets: the regular people who bring their passion, their resources and their commitment to the table.

The creation of a community that works in concert with the brand gives the whole endeavor a larger purpose in society that matters, and at the same time as we move to a market of automated and friction-less transactions, we hasten our search for some confirmation of our own humanity, and is something we can carry forward into a scary and quickly arriving, automated, post-work world.

Think of how astonishingly earth-shattering that last thought is. A post-work world. The Fourth Industrial revolution is upon us. Work, a thing we know and frame our existence with, will change in this century for most of us.

Wondering why you see so much social consciousness creeping into advertising? The data is telling marketers that the world is looking for confirmation of “who we are.”

In better and worse times advertising has been that role in our lives. With automation taking people out of the work-force and a massive explosion of personal identity politics underway, the world might just need brands right now.

 

MaxCo Advisors

October, 2018

Mental Mash Potatoes

A self-made billionaire reveals the one mental hurdle that you must overcome to reach your potential. People who can do this are winners; those who can’t are losers, according to the world’s most influential hedge fund entrepreneur.

Billionaire Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater, one of the world’s largest and best-performing hedge funds. A true entrepreneurial success story, Dalio started his company in a two-bedroom apartment. He was a self-described ordinary kid and worse-than-ordinary student. Forty-two years after starting his company, Dalio decided to share his success secrets in his new book, Principles.

I received an early copy of the book, which weighs in at a hefty 560 pages. But Dalio says one chapter in particular is the most important. In it, he reveals the one roadblock to success that is so engrained in the human experience, and in our DNA, it’s difficult to overcome. But those who recognize it and take steps to knock down the barrier will be in a much stronger position to get what they want out of life.

Dalio’s advice: Be radically open-minded

Good decisions aren’t necessarily the ones that stroke your ego. A good decision is what’s best for you and your company. To make good decisions, argues Dalio, a person must have the ability to explore different points of view and different possibilities, regardless of whether it hurts your ego.

Ask any of your friends or any entrepreneur if he or she is open-minded, and most–if not all–will say they are. But are they? Are you? According to Dalio, here are some cues that will tell if you are truly open-minded.

  • Close-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged; open-minded people are not angry when someone disagrees.
  • Close-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions; open-minded people genuinely believe they could be wrong.
  • Close-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others; open-minded people always feel compelled to see things through others’ eyes.
  • Close-minded people lack a deep sense of humility; open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong.

Dalio believes that recognizing these traits in yourself is just the first step. The second step is recognizing them in others. Once you do, “surround yourself with the open-minded ones,” he says.

According to Dalio, it’s critical to reframe a disagreement not as a threat, which is what your primitive brain sees, but as an opportunity to learn. “People who change their minds because they learned something are winners, whereas those who stubbornly refuse to learn are the losers,” he says. Dalio points out that being open-minded doesn’t mean that you blindly accept another person’s conclusions. He recommends being open-minded and assertive at the same time. “You should hold and explore conflicting possibilities in your mind while moving fluidly toward whatever is likely to be true based on what you learn,” he says.

Dalio offers several recommendations to help you develop the habit of being radically open-minded. Among them:

“Sincerely believe that you might not know the best possible path.” Dalio says that recognizing what you don’t know is more important than whatever it is you know for sure.

“Recognize that decision making is a two-step process: First, take in all the relevant information, then decide.” Dalio says it’s here that many entrepreneurs get tripped up. Most people are reluctant to consider information that is inconsistent with their worldview or the conclusion they’ve already arrived at.

“Remember that you’re looking for the best answer, not simply the best answer that you can come up with yourself.” This last piece of advice could be the most important. Dalio points out that when two people disagree, there is a good chance that one of them is wrong. What if it’s you?

For most entrepreneurs, their goal is to build the best company and the best life they possibly can. Disagreements, debate, and feedback all serve the ultimate purpose–to reach the best decision. Setting aside your ego could be your ultimate competitive advantage. “If you are too proud of what you know … you will learn less, make inferior decisions, and fall short of your potential,” says Dalio.

MaxCo Advisors

Feb 10, 2018

You Can Have The Most Impressive Title In The World And Still Not Be A Leader

According to the late Bill Campbell, who established a reputation as the “coach” of Silicon Valley, only one thing determines whether or not you’re a leader: the opinions of those you’re supposed to be leading.

A former Columbia University football player and coach, Campbell went on to work with and mentor with some of the biggest names in tech, including Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt.

Former Apple CEO John Sculley poached Campbell, hiring him away from Kodak to work as Apple’s VP of marketing.

Sculley shared one of the best pieces of advice Campbell ever gave him: “Your title makes you a manager. Your people will decide if you’re a leader, and it’s up to you to live up to that.”

Campbell himself told Sculley he’d come to that realization about leadership from working with Jobs.

“The reality is that you have to earn leadership from the people that you’re working with and who are working for you,” Sculley told Business Insider. “The title doesn’t mean much unless you can earn their respect as a leader.”

Later in his career, Campbell served on Apple’s board of directors. He went on to also become CEO of Intuit from 1994 to 1998 and eventually became the chairman of the tech company’s board.

Current Intuit CEO Brad Smith said he got the same advice on leadership from Campbell, too. Sculley and Smith both said it was the best career advice they’d ever received, and that it’s stuck with them ever since.

“Basically, how you make that happen is if you believe that leadership is not about putting greatness into people, leadership is about recognizing that there’s a greatness in everyone and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge,” Smith told Business Insider. “That’s our definition of leadership. We don’t think leadership is the same as people management.”

MaxCo Advisors

Feb 10, 2018

9 Things You Never See Successful People Do

Here’s what successful people avoid, and why you should, too.

BY CHAD PERRY, VP of Sales, Motivosity

It’s fun to read lists of what makes successful people tick.

Their morning rituals. Their habits. Their goal-setting routines. The things they do before calling it a day. What they eat for lunch.

But sometimes, it’s interesting to see what they don’t do.

In life, simplicity is more. Less is more.

In that spirit, here are a few things to do less of, so that you can experience more success.

Never Live in the Past

Individuals that live in the past miss seeing what the future holds. They’re blinded by what could have been, instead of seeing what can be.

Unsuccessful people trade yesterday for today, and forfeit tomorrow.

You can let your past shape you, but don’t let it imprison you.

Respect Risk, Don’t Fear It

The fear of risk will lead to a lifetime of regret. That’s because when you don’t take that occasional risk, you’ll spend a lifetime looking back and wondering “if only” and “what if?”

Educate yourself. Do your homework. Trust your gut.

But don’t be afraid to jump every now and then, even when the only thing you can see is what your imagination believes.

Never Dwell on Failure

We live in a world obsessed with perfection. With winning. With succeeding at every attempt. With participation trophies.

The reality is: That’s not real.

Success doesn’t come without bumps and bruises. Great wins rarely come without great losses.

If you fail, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep going.

(Nobody is watching that close anyway.)

Never Make Excuses

Excuses come because you’re afraid to take a risk. They come because you tried and failed.

Sometimes they come because you didn’t try…and you failed.

If you didn’t try, don’t cover it up with an excuse. You were lazy. No one will buy it.

Go back and try again.

Never Hold a Grudge, Ever

Let it go.

Holding a grudge is living in a past that you can never change.

Holding a grudge will only keep holding you back. Not them.

Never Hold Others Back

If someone else succeeds, it doesn’t mean you fail. There’s plenty to go around.

Let them try, and win.

Be a gracious winner, and an even bigger cheerleader.

Never Rely on Luck

The funny thing about luck?

It finds the people who look for it, not the ones who are waiting for it.

Unless you’re playing the lottery, your chances of finding luck increase the more you’re out there working, hustling, and not taking no for an answer.

Successful people find luck because they work at it.

Never Waste Time

Not wasting time isn’t the same thing as always being busy.

It means making time count.

It means not trading your valuable and limited time for something of little worth.

Unlike a bank account, you cannot increase the amount of time you have. Once you use it, it’s gone. There’s no getting more of it.

Choose carefully how you invest your time.

Never Accept Limitations

Babe Ruth didn’t hit a home run his first time at bat.

Michael Jordan didn’t sink a three-pointer on his first attempt.

Tiger Woods didn’t hit a hole-in-one on his first swing.

Being successful takes practice. It takes courage. It takes persistence to work through the kinks.

Each of us has brilliance in us. You just have to get beyond the limitations you create in your own mind to find out how successful you can become.

 

MaxCo Advisors, October 2016

Love Can Beat This.

Written by Mauricio Estrella

In the heat of arguing, it’s human nature to do our best to win. However, arguing can get quite irrational when we lose focus of what we’re trying to resolve. If we’re not focused on solving a problem, we’re wasting time and energy that can be diverted into something more positive.

In a bad argument, our empathy for the other person disappears, and we become self-centered and defensive. We basically turn into angry, snappy Chihuahuas or cursing sailors. All that matters is our own perspective on the problem. Our proposal to resolve it. Our solution. Screw everything and everybody else.

But what if we’re wrong?

How do we know we’re right if we’re focused on forcing our reasoning onto the other person? Some people just can’t handle arguments.

For many, a sudden spike of adrenaline during an argument directly proceeds a bout of cursing. It happens right before they throw a plate off the table. Before slamming a door. Before sending an angry email. Or right before physical aggression. Losing control of an argument can end in terrifying ways.

The journey to conquering a problem is tedious enough. I’d rather have an extremely simple shortcut than a deep and detailed run-down of methods and processes to do so. I try to focus on finding paths—and in the case of a heated disagreement, I tried to find a direct path, a shortcut, to resolve conflicts.

To put things in the context: My fiancée is Chinese, I’m Ecuadorian, so cultural differences do make an impact in our lives. Sometimes these differences are funny. Sometimes they’re not.

Here’s my recipe for navigating conflict.

Step 1: Shut up

It’s such a waste of time to spend your energy arguing. Once the discussion reaches the point when you’re irrational, there’s no way in the world you’re gonna end up victorious. Instead, you’re gonna end up sleeping on the couch. Eating some ugly microwaveable food. Watching TV till late. Drinking a beer on your own, pretending you’re reflecting on your brilliance.

Why go through all of this? Just…shut up. Let the silence embrace your anger. Put a pause to the conflict.

Breathe.

Step 2: Turn around

I came up with the idea of sitting (or standing), leaning my back against my girlfriend’s back whenever a discussion heated up and we needed to resolve a dispute over something.

That’s right.

“Stand, or sit down, and lean your back against the other person’s back.” —Me, scientist.

Step 3: Continue arguing

That’s right. Continue where you left. With the same energy. Just imagine you’re still facing the other person, as if nothing has changed, and watch how magic happens.

After a couple of minutes, this always helps to end the discussion. Thanks to this method, we have learned a lot about ourselves and each other. And saved countless moments of angry body language and words bouncing between the walls of our home.

But how?

“What happens is that the arguing immediately becomes more objective.” —Me, scientist.

There’s no better way to realize if you’re right or wrong than speaking with yourself, with honesty. Honesty, however, is hard to achieve when we can’t control our emotions and interactions.

By standing back-against-back, you no longer have another person across the room to argue with. You become vulnerable, because your words are aimed at nobody in front of you. You’re on your own, looking at a corner of the room. Your voice reflects off the walls and yells back at you. You will hear what the other person in the room hears. It’s a wonderful experience.

“You will trick your mind. For your brain, it is illogical to be arguing with nobody. Your mind’s logical self-preservation instinct will fight against doing something as dumb as yelling at the air.” —Me, psycholoscientist.

You will be more clear and objective and think, “Well, I do have a point!” or maybe, “Oh, this is wrong. I am wrong.”

For me and my fiancée, it usually takes a few minutes to end the discussion for good. The best part is when you turn around and you get to face the person who you just agreed with.

Step 4: Turn around again, and enjoy your peace

This is exceptional with couples. It’s a moment of relief and happiness where you go: “Ah! There she is!” or “Ah! There he is!” Feel the beauty of a peaceful moment.

This often ends with a silly smirk, a tiny laugh. Or a slap. Or sex. Or both. Depends. Results may vary.

This post originally appeared at Medium.

MaxCo Advisors, September 2016

Trying To Make Other People Happy Is Counter-Productive

I really like this article, written by Christine Carter. I’d encourage you to read it completely.


People ask me all the time what the secret to happiness is. “If you had to pick just one thing,” they wonder, “what would be the most important thing for leading a happy life?”

Ten years ago, I would have told you a regular gratitude practice was the most important thing—and while that is still my favorite instant happiness booster, my answer has changed. I believe the most important thing for happiness is living truthfully. Here’s the specific advice I recently gave my kids:

Live with total integrity. Be transparent, honest, and authentic. Do not ever waiver from this—white lies and false smiles quickly snowball into a life lived out of alignment. It is better to be yourself and risk having people not like you than to suffer the stress and tension that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, or professing to like something that you don’t. I promise you: Pretending will rob you of joy.

I’ve spent the better part of my life as a people-pleaser—trying to meet other people’s expectations, trying to keep everyone happy and liking me. But when we are trying to please others, we are usually out of sync with our own wants and needs. It’s not that it’s bad to be thinking of others. It’s that pleasing others is not the same as helping others.

People pleasing, in my extensive personal experience, is a process of guessing what other people want, or what will make them think favorably of us, and then acting accordingly. It’s an often subtle and usually unconscious attempt at manipulating other people’s perceptions of us. Anytime we pretend to be something we aren’t or feel something we don’t, we lose personal integrity.

And any time we’re doing something that is more about influencing what others think of us than authentically expressing ourselves—even something as simple as a Facebook post that makes it seem like we are having a better day than we actually are—we lose personal integrity.

Losing integrity has pretty serious consequences for our happiness, and for our relationships. Here’s what happens when we aren’t being authentic:

  1. We don’t actually fool anyone

Say you are at work, and you’re doing your best to put on a happy face even though your home life is feeling shaky. You may not want to reveal to your work friends that you and your significant other had a major fight over the weekend, but if you pretend that you are okay—and you’re not—you’ll probably make the people around you feel worse, too. Why?

We humans aren’t actually very good at hiding how we are feeling. We exhibit micro-expressions that the people we are with might not consciously register, but that trigger their mirror neurons—so a little part of their brain thinks that they are feeling our negative feelings. Trying to suppress negative emotions when we are talking with someone—like when we don’t want to trouble someone else with our own distress—actually increases the stress levels of both people more than if we had shared our distress in the first place. (It also reduces rapport and inhibits the connection between two people.)

  1. We find it harder to focus

Pretending takes a huge conscious effort—it’s an act of self-control that drains your brain of its power to focus and do deep work. That’s because performing—or pretending to be or feel something you’re not—requires tremendous willpower.

Tons of research suggests that our ability to repeatedly exert our self-control is actually quite limited. Like a muscle that tires and can no longer perform at its peak strength after a workout, our self-control is diminished by previous efforts at control, even if those efforts take place in a totally different realm.

So that little fib at the water cooler you told in order to make yourself seem happier than you are is going to make it hard for you to focus later in the afternoon. A performance—or any attempt to hide who you really are, or pretend to be something you aren’t—is later going to make it harder to control your attention and your thoughts, and to regulate your emotions. It’ll increase the odds that you react more aggressively to provocation, eat more tempting snacks, engage in riskier behaviors, and—this one is pretty compelling to me—perform more poorly on tasks that require executive function, like managing your time, planning, or organizing.

  1. We become more stressed and anxious

Let’s just call it like it is: Pretending to be or feel something that you don’t—even if it is a small thing, and even if it is relatively meaningless, and even if it is meant to protect someone else—is a lie – and it’s exhausting.

And lying, even if we do it a lot or are good at it, is very stressful to our brains and our bodies. The polygraph test depends on this: “Lie detectors” don’t actually detect lies, but rather they detect the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. These tests sense changes in our skin conductivity, pulse rate, and breathing. They also detect when someone’s vocal pitch has changed in a nearly imperceptible way, a consequence of tension in the body that tightens vocal chords.

The physiological changes that lie detectors sense are caused by glucocorticoids—hormones that are released during a stress response. And as you well know, stress hormones are bad news for your health and happiness over the long run.

Research shows that people who are given instructions for how to lie less in their day-to-day lives are actually able to lie less—and when they do, their physical health improves. For example, they report less trouble sleeping, less tension, fewer headaches, and fewer sore throats. These improvements in health are likely caused by the relative absence of a stress response.

And that’s not all: When the people in the above study lied less, they also reported improvements in their relationships, and decreased anxiety.

We don’t lie or pretend or perform all the time, of course. But when we do, it’s important to see the consequences: increased stress, decreased willpower, impaired relationships. Although we might actually be trying to feel better by putting on a happy face for others, pretending always backfires in the end. Living in-authentically makes life hard and cuts us off from our sweet spot—that place where we have both ease and power.

This post originally appeared at ChristineCarter.com.

MaxCo Advisors, September 2016