“Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”
Well… wear that t-shirt!
There are so many true things about you that would get you a lot of benefit if they were also obvious to others. Sadly, they aren’t. Information transfer is difficult, and signaling various qualities about you is pretty much what all humans do all day, every day. Despite this, we’re often bad at it.
For starters, we tend to rely on overly-traditional signals. But the more traditional a signal becomes, the less impressive it becomes as well. It may be hard to imagine now, but there was actually a time when a high school diploma carried a lot of weight as a signal of intelligence and conscientiousness. Now it’s just so default that it’s meaningless. Saying “I graduated high school!” is something your grandma sends you fifty bucks in a card for and then the whole universe promptly forgets about.
Wealth is relatively easy to signal, but the signals are also easy to fake. Plus, a lot of the traditional signals for wealth are now actually signals for being bad with money. (Remember, rich people drive ten-year-old Toyota Corollas and wear clothes from Target. That’s why they’re rich. Spendthrifts drive sports cars with 28% interest rates and wear watches that cost three paychecks.)
And that’s just wealth! More abstract things like intelligence, responsibility, and specific skills or qualities are harder to show off. I mean, how do you show off that you’re humble?
Despite this, it’s worth the effort. I hear this lament all the time: “People don’t know the real me. If only they did, they’d give me a chance.” That sentence gets uttered in response to dating woes, job search aggravation, college admissions, whatever.
Well – it’s not their fault that they don’t know the “real you.” It’s yours.
They can’t read minds. You have to communicate. Here’s how:
Step 1: Think of the quality you want to signal. Intelligence, ability to grow excellent tomatoes, running speed, graphic design, attentiveness. Whatever, just pick the thing you want people to know.
Step 2: Ask yourself, “Besides myself, who else is the ultimate example of this quality?” If you don’t know, figure it out. Don’t proceed until you can point to a real life person (whether you know them personally or not) that has that quality.
Step 3: Ask yourself why you know that they have that quality. For example, if you picked “creative” as your quality and found the most “creative” person as an example, ask yourself why you think of them that way?
Chances are very, very good that you don’t think they’re creative because you asked them and they told you. Instead, I’ll bet that you think they’re creative because you saw stuff they created.
They probably did whatever their creative thing was and put it out into the world to see. They painted a mural on a building or they released and album or they published a book or they invented stilts for dogs or something. The same is true of any quality.
You need to get out of your own perspective. Don’t ask “how can I show people that I’m intelligent?” You’ll get stuck. Pick the most intelligent person you can think of and ask how that person showed you that they were intelligent. Emulate from there. Wear the t-shirt.