At conferences. At parties. At after-work-drinks. Chances are, we’ve heard this line plenty of times:
-How’s Jason doing?
-He just opened up a Pop-up shop, he’s killing it!
Meanwhile, I’m struggling to pay my bills.
-How’s Jason doing?
-He’s getting his first customers, he’s killing it!
Meanwhile, I’m struggling to get my product shipped.
This is killing it culture. It’s a culture that’s common in our professional lives, and rampant in the entrepreneurial community. It’s what happens when you say “everything is great” “living the dream” or “we’re killing it” when someone asks you how it’s going – regardless of what’s happening.
And take it from me, it’s killing you.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. When someone else asks us how it’s going, we don’t want to be a downer, generally, we want that person to keep talking with us, and we also don’t want to look weak. So, you could be having the worst time of your life, but you always give the person a positive answer, or hi-light all the great things that are actually going right in your life. We don’t rock the boat, and we’re not completely honest.
And guess what? That creates a ripple effect, because when someone else asks that person how you’re doing, they’re gonna sing your praises and say those three harmful words: “they’re killing it.”
All of that turns into a ton of pressure, because suddenly there are a whole bunch of people with the expectation that you’re at the top of your game – and nobody wants it to be exposed that they’re not.
So you work yourself to the point exhaustion, you stress yourself out, and you desperately try and prove that they’re not wrong.
I know this, because I did it to myself too – and I’m still trying to work myself back from the burn-out, the hit to my self-confidence, and the damage it did to my mental health and sense of self-worth.
So what can we do to kill killing it culture? Well, we need to normalize honest answers when we’re asked how things are going. We need to create a paradigm where we feel like it’s ok to say “You know, it’s been kinda hard lately, but that’s ok” – without feeling like we’re making it awkward or unpleasant for the other person.
And we’ll get to that place with being honest – even if it is going to make things awkward initially.
So the next time someone asks you how things are going, and they are not going great. Be honest. You don’t need to give the grisly details, but we’ll all have to stop saying things are great when they’re not.
Let’s just be vulnerable.