Authentic, the new fake

Tis the season to identify and vanquish overused and thus meaningless words to the retirement home. My contribution for Freedom 55 in 2011 are: excellence; journey; utilize and authentic.

What exactly is excellence anyway? “The Award for Excellence in Bla Bla,” what does that even mean? Sounds like something dreamed up by Ted Logan and Bill S. Preston. Honestly, if you weren’t good at it, would you even get an award? Just call it what it is, eg. the “Award for Best Whatever.” Really, you don’t need anything else.

Journey. Still used to describe big change in organizations, like we’re on some family trip from hell that never ends. It’s not a journey, it’s a circus, an uphill climb, groundhog day, a tough slog. If Pivot helps you, it’s a success, but whatever it is, it isn’t a journey.

The fact that people use utilize astounds me. It’s puffery, all baroque and high-falutin. Perhaps we should change useless to utilizeless? Let’s make utilize what it is – useless – and just use use.

And then there’s authentic, the new fake. Ask your colleagues, they’ll tell you: anyone who uses authentic in corporate communication is either naive or messing with you. Unfortunately, for most people, the workplace hasn’t been authentic for a long time, and the systematic overuse of this word has rendered it utterly utilizeless. Want to be authentic? Let’s all start by being real. The truth will flow from there.