The Invisible King of the Jungle
Over the past few years, I started noticing a trend that somehow intrigued me. There seems to be more and more of what I would call „self-proclaimed experts“ out there. There are „lifestyle coaches“ that are 25 years old. „Senior“ business professionals that are 30 years old. With a lack of a track record due to age, their expert status is mainly based on what they consider themselves to be, and little to nothing else. And as much as want to believe that the younger generation has somehow quantum-leaped in evolution and found a way to gain accelerated life and business expertise, somehow I cannot help but wonder what might drive this“ fake it, no matter if you ever make it“ approach.
So I wondered... do they actually believe they can explain to someone twice their age how to live their life successfully (when they have barely been an adult for a couple of years themselves)? Do they really think they can (or should) be a CEO at 25, a senior executive at 30, and will not cause potentially significant collateral (business and human) damage in the process?
I was reminded, quite strongly, about a story I read to my kids one day: The Invisible King of the Jungle. In a nutshell, the story goes as such. There is a little fly (or bee, depending on the version) that can roar like a lion. The little fly hides in the jungle and terrifies all the animals living there, pretending to be a lion (frightening and threatening them into submission with the roar) – to the extent that all jungle animals accept that fake lion as their king. Until one animal comes along that not only immediately understands that this is not a lion, but just openly addresses it. The fly is thus exposed as a fraud and no longer king of the jungle.
So when I see these „experts“ roar all over the place, I am reminded of that fly that pretended to be a lion. And I think...why the pretending? You are a fly that can roar like a lion! That is an incredibly unique skill, that is actually bad-ass! Why did you not embrace that uniqueness, nurture it, and grow it, instead of pretending that you are something that you are not, at the risk of getting exposed? Because even if you can roar like a lion that does not make you a lion. Even if you understand crazy people it does not make you an expert in managing an asylum. And even if you have managed your life successfully so far you are not necessarily life-coach material. And there is just no way you can be a business expert at 30. No matter how much you want to convince yoursel and everyone else: if you fake it you always run the risk of someone calling you out on it, and then losing it all.
So as I am always curious about motivation or drivers, I wondered: why are they roaring all over the place? Is this over-confidence? Is this conscious misleading? Or is this something else? Is it maybe that job ads tell young folks that they have to be 25, double-graduated, with 5 years of professional experience to get an entry-level corporate job? Is it that we told them too often that what matters is participating instead of working hard to achieve one’s goals? Are there too many fake role models out there? Or maybe, just maybe, there are too few of us out there that speak up, addressing the roarers, to tell them: listen, why don’t we work with the skills you have here and make this something great together?
So, this is me speaking up to all those young, motivated, smart folks out there. Relax. You don’t need to roar and pretend to be the King of the Jungle. No need to pretend! Demographics are in your favor. You will take over those companies, you will rule the world. Just be patient, and maybe learn a trick or two from the „old guard“. Please stop declaring yourselves as experts – we believe and respect you more if you don’t, and we WILL help you become the best possible version of yourself! Promise!