The No-Pretense Rule: How to be Happy While Succeeding

If you’re reading this, I can take an intelligent guess and say you want two things in life: you want to be very happy and you want to be successful. I am right, yes? Sooner or later, you’ll certainly learn that it’s almost impossible to accomplish one without the other.

Take a second and ponder on it. What good is success if you’re not happy? That’s a classic example of hollow victory … there really wouldn’t be much point to it, would there?
On the flipside, how can you be really happy except you’re at least on a path to accomplishing whatever it is that motivates or drives you? Truth is, you really can’t.

Now that we’ve recognized and come to an agreement that we all want to be happy and successful, let me share with you a popular myth that if credible is supposed to help you get there but, truthfully, is far more likely to stop you dead in your tracks. I call it the likeability trap.

Last week, I read an article that laid a lot of emphasis on being a likable person at work and the crux of the article borders on faking it. The article essentially teaches you to fake it. For instance, it says, that to be more likeable person, you should “seem trustworthy and authentic” by “behaving in a way that feels natural and comfortable.”

Hold on a bit! To me that advice sounds wrong on so many levels. I’m not sure where to start. Let’s see. Hmmmm, don’t you think it would be better and a lot easier if you were actually trustworthy and real instead of trying to twist your personality to appear that way? And don’t you think it’s better to actually be natural and comfortable, instead of trying to fake it?

I mean, the fact remains that nobody achieves lasting success and happiness by trying to be something they’re not. That’s like trying to build a beautiful edifice on a defective or flimsy foundation. Sooner or later, the whole thing will come crashing down and there are bound to be casualties.

Never pretend to be what you are not. If you have some great of attributes, then be yourself and show off what you have. For example, if you are a hard and smart worker, and you always get the job done, you never have to worry about faking it. But if you are not, then don’t you think it’s about time you took a long, hard look in the mirror and asked yourself why that is?

Here’s another perspective to it

In today’s business world, the most powerful brand influencer is your product. Yes you heard me right, not the adverts or the referrals but the product itself. If customers have a great experience with your products and services, you are made. If not, then you’re better off improving on your act than trying to create an illusion of what does not exist. Imagine putting lipstick on a pig…that’s exactly what you do when you try to put up an illusion.

It’s the same thing with personal branding. Certainly, you want to come across as being sophisticated and professional. That’s a no-brainer. But if you portray yourself be something you’re not and set expectations you can’t possibly live up to or, even worse, make promises you can’t keep, that will do far more damage than good. It will come back to bite you in the form of a tainted reputation.

The need to be ‘you’ cannot be over emphasized. You don’t need to be a likable person to succeed, you have to be yourself. By all means strive to be a better person but never pretend to be what you are not. The perception of behavior is a highly subjective thing. And different cultures have different values. Besides, human behavior is situational and not always as it appears. Everyone acts annoyingly sometimes.

As successful entrepreneurs and business leaders go, we have a varying range. For every Richard Branson, Herb Kelleher or Fred Smith who, by all standards, seem to be likeable guys, there’s a Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, or Mark Zuckerberg who don’t share the same sort of reputation.

If you spend enough time in the real world – business or not – one thing stands out loud and clear: those who are happy and successful have found themselves. They’re comfortable with who they are. They know their strengths and weaknesses; they also know what they stand for. And when you look at them, you know that what you see is what you get. And there’s nothing more refreshing than that.

I call that The No Pretense Rule. Try it sometime.

About Stellamaris Obomanu

Loves to read, loves to write, loves to laugh, loves life and yeah, she's as real as they come.


  1. Paul says:

    I draw from your piece that you are advising people to be themselves in order to be happy. It’s fair advice. Our growing culture of individualism makes it sound like good advice. However, it’s fair to point out that the essense of “faking it” is so that people can show up in professional settings as the best versions of themselves. The advice isn’t saying be inauthetic. It’s saying play bold when you are feeling nervous. Play intelligent when you don’t feel so smart because everyone around you seems smarter. The idea isnt fit yourself into something you are not but step into the shoe of the person you wish to become.

    • Stellamaris Obomanu says:

      Thanks for your contribution.
      I agree with you but I also think that we should learn to take it a step futher. If you are not as smart or intelligent as those around you, instead of “playing” smart forever, why not “get” smart. I mean, read, research, do anything to improve your mental ability.

  2. Mr Ugobino. A says:

    Let’s not forget the fact that photocopy can never be original. May God help us all……Thank you Stellamaris for that nice article.

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