Shouldering

“I can see by your shoulders,” said the modelling consultant as she reviewed a gal’s first photo shoot, “that you were not as confident as I expected or would have liked.”

She got some gigs to help her learn, but she didn’t get the contract, at least not now.  All because her shoulders seemed to give her away, seemed to reveal weakness in some flash moment test shots, reveal some lack of owning the space, owning her presence, owning her beauty.

“Sincerity, kid, sincerity,” the old pro is reputed to have told the new salesman.  “Once you can fake sincerity, you can do almost anything.”

My boss, the president and CEO, announced to our Regis McKenna PR rep that he had named my colleague a vice president.   She looked to him and me, only three of us in the board room, and asked him who knew this was going to happen.

“Only me,” he replied.  “I told her during the cab ride here.”

She focused on me.  “But they knew,” she said, indicating me.

“No,” he said, as I nodded in agreement.  I hadn’t known.

She assessed me coolly.   “That was good work, that reaction,” she told me.

She was right.  I didn’t like her much, because she didn’t get the joke.  And I damn well wasn’t going to give her anything.  So I stayed cool, without a flicker, as Ted delivered his news.

I knew I got no power from looking ignorant.   I was powerful only as far as I had the knowledge.  And she, being a flack, was more impressed with my performance when she knew it was a performance.

Fake it ’till you make it.  It’s in the shoulders.  Once you can fake authenticity, you can do anything.

My life has been a sequence of knowing, not knowing, performing, and not performing, over and over and over again.

The second most important thing in taking care of my parents, after fighting my own fatigue, was performance.

I had to modulate myself to communicate with doctors and staff, but most of all to communicate with my parents.    When dealing with AS people, Aspergers people, communication needs to be clear and focused.   You need to know your audience well and play to them.   It’s not free and open communications, at least not for me, which is why I was so good at not showing emotion when my boss made that announcement.

The most frustrating times for me were when I couldn’t get my own emotions down and modulate my performance properly.  It was frustrating for me, because I was in a vacuum, and it was frustrating for others, because I was noisy and disquieting.

When I did Startup Weekend, my other senior team member, Chris, was clear: the challenge was to present Vaporware as if it was real.   That was our winning trick; our product seemed real and professional, even if I only invented it the morning before.

In other words, our shoulders didn’t give us away.  At the very least, our presentation was more confident than other teams.

“When you believe it, others will too,” TBB told me.    She knows.  I have seen her perform her magic in a bar, winning over patrons.  She knows how to work it.   But last Friday, she didn’t feel like doing that again when those gals threw darts at her.

It’s a burden to always have to be shouldering the expectations and fears of others.

But it’s the shoulders that tell so much.