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A boutique hotel. Bali. Near the beach. Cozy rooms. Helpful staff. Great food. Spectacular pool. Wow! Sounded great. We’re in. … Recently on a trip to Bali, we stayed at the hotel pictured above. It may not show clearly for various technical reasons (which I don’t fully appreciate), but the picture above, when viewed on my computer (the file is several megs) looks spectacular. Or at a minimum, it looks really good.
The idea for the picture came from a friend of mine. I saw him late one evening, about 12:30am, by the edge of the pool, kneeling down, playing with his camera. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “taking a picture.” Duh! I realized I hadn’t seen a flash when he took his picture so I asked him how his pictures were turning out. “Good”, he said.
Upon further discussion, I realized he was using the edge of the pool as a makeshift tripod and using a long shutter-speed. For you non-photography types, this basically means he could avoid using a flash (since it wasn’t strong enough to light up the entire pool area anyway) and yet still get a picture that was properly exposed. He was using the edge of the pool to keep the camera from moving which would have resulted in blurring since he was using a long shutter speed. For you photography-types, he even used his self-timer so his finger wouldn’t shake the camera when he depressed the shutter-release button.
The main point is that he was taking some nice pictures of our hotel and I decided to copy him. I set my camera on the edge of the pool, selected the smallest aperture (for greater depth-of-field), allowed the camera to select the shutter speed (more than 1 second), and pushed the self-timer. I was pleased with the results. The hotel looked great.
All our friends on the trip agreed. The hotel (in the picture) looked great. Inviting. Classy. Expensive. I was pleased. … Only one thing weighed on my conscience. The reality didn’t match up.
Please don’t get me wrong. We had a great time in Bali. Great diving. Good food. Amazing friends. Our sightseeing and shopping were fun. And the hotel was … well, the hotel was ok. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t even bad once we got the water to work, then the hot water to work. Ok, you get the idea. The hotel was average. Not bad, but average. The sheets were clean and we got new towels every day. But it was not the Ritz Carleton or the Shangri-La or Plantation Bay.
The advertising had, perhaps, been a bit misleading as we all agreed that the picture looked better than our real-life experience. The picture doesn’t convey the actual experience. Like bling, it is external and can be misleading.
As leaders, we should demonstrate authenticity and character-based leadership. Our walk should match our talk. It’s ok to have bling on the outside and filet mignon on the inside. It’s not ok to have bling on the outside and baloney on the inside.
Have you seen a leader who is out of alignment? Who is not authentic? Someone who looks good (bling) outwardly, but inwardly they’re full of baloney? It’s sad. It also leads to less than excellent results over the long-run.
Your family. Your organization. Your team. All deserve the best. Your advertising should be true. It’s ok to wear bling, to look good, on the outside, but it’s imperative that you deliver. That you walk the talk and demonstrate consistency between what’s inside and what’s outside.
What about you? Are you wearing bling on the outside and full of baloney inside? Or do you walk the talk and demonstrate authentic behavior and character-based leadership?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.