Why Do We Value Hype Over Substance?

They’ve been dominating the news feed for what feels like forever now. People who I won’t name because I’d just add to the attention that they crave so much. One guy claimed that he could be Michael Jordan in a one on one pickup game on one leg, and the other… well… all you need to do is follow his Twitter feed if you want to know what it’s like to live in a real life land of make believe.

I bet that if you didn’t know who I was referring to and all you had were those two descriptions, you’d probably walk away from them and not waste your time. But sadly it’s not the case. The first gentleman is now a recognized media personality (whether we’d like to admit it or not) and now a successful businessman and the other is the leader of what I feel is still the greatest country in the world (at the moment of this writing). People bought into hype over substance, and they continue to do so.

And it’s not just in the world of entertainment, although it seems that the line between entertainment and reality are blurring dangerously close nowadays.

Businessman sitting at the table and shrugging
People that are all hype rarely come through and are always full of excuses.

I was told a while back that when recruiting, to make personality and boldness a priority when evaluating candidates. What ever happened to prioritizing skillsets and evaluating whether or not we thought a candidate could actually get the job done? In one particular case, it was unfortunate to see a candidate rejected because they were “too quiet”, even though they had the strongest skillset for the position. Needless to say, the hiring team experienced the ramifications of going with hype over substance.

Unfortunately this happens all the time. The people that get noticed and all the chances are those constantly beat their own chests and brag about all the things they done. They name drop and always have “the best” stories to tell and always have “the best” ideas. They like to direct people without taking on any real work and they never take responsibility. They tend to overpromise but underdeliver and when they do they always have some sort of excuse. Things are never their fault.

Even if they ask you for your opinion they’re not really listening to you, but just waiting for you to stop talking so that they can give you theirs. They only want to do things their way. If you were to take a closer look at their history, you’ll find that they really haven’t done much either, but are good at embellishing the little they have done. But yet these people are labeled as “the talent” and “rock stars” and “future leaders” of the company.

One of my managers from a long time ago told me that “those that know why will always manage those that know how”, and at the time I completely disagreed. To me the statement didn’t make sense. How can someone lead, without knowing how to actually do the work? Well sadly, now I know. We like to value hype over substance, and I would love to know why. Do you have any suggestions?

Who You Are Is How You Act

My favorite hobby nowadays is taking photos. I think you can tell a lot about a person by what they create, and in my case if you look at my photography you can get a good snapshot (pardon the pun) of who I am. 

It’s not just the case with photography though. Who you are is embodied in your work and your actions. What you output is a reflection your self. It’s why we want to be proud of what we’ve done and what projects we work on. It’s why we want to work on what we’re passionate about.

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Symmetry and balance are two things that I like to find when taking photos.

In addition to work and what we create, who we really are also comes out in how we act. What we say no longer has meaning if how we act is much different from that. 

My favorite movie quote is from Batman Begins, “it’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me”. I’ll admit, Batman is my favorite superhero, but had the Joker said it I still think it would be my favorite movie quote because it resonated with me. Actions do speak louder than words. 

“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”

~ Batman Begins

Trust has always been very important, and it seems that nowadays who you can trust or what you can believe in is really hard to determine. People flippantly say things all the time without thinking, and words don’t seem to mean as much as they used to. So I’m going to let my actions, and what I do, do the talking for me. And your actions will also define you as well.