One of the things I’ve heard a lot of this year is how I (supposedly) have an unfair advantage by being kooky.*
Because, apparently, life is harder for non-kooky people.
The people who tell me this say things like:
“Come on. You have a duck. You’re a big weirdo who files things by chakras and is obsessed with roller derby and makes unforgivably dorky puns on Twitter.
“Of course you’re successful. Of course people pay attention to what you say. Because you’re a memorable freaking wackjob. Like Naomi. But vegetarian-er.
“But what about the rest of us who are not kooky and weird??????”
*Kooooooooooooooooky. Actually, I probably do have an unfair advantage, but it’s definitely not related to the kookiness.
You do. not. have to. be kooky and weird.
It is not a requirement for anything. Outside of carnival work, maybe.
Every time you’re doing your thing and being all yourself — out loud — your Right People are going to be drawn to that.
The being-yourself-ness of it all does not, in and of itself, have to be quirky, odd or remarkable.
It’s the act of you being all hellooooooo, this is me, baby. That’s what counts.
You don’t have to lift your t-shirt up and yell Spring Break! That part is completely optional.
There are no boring people.
You are alive. There is something interesting about you. You just don’t know that it’s interesting because you’re too busy getting really, really excited about scones in a tube or feeding your pet kangaroo.
But if there were? If you were the Most Boring Person That Ever Was? You could totally work that.
Because it would be the best brand ever.
And anyway, there’s nothing wrong with having laid-back and low-key as part of your thing.
You can even put those qualities on your dammit list.**
** I get to be a wallflower dammit. I’ll wear only beige if I want to dammit. I don’t have to go to networking events if I’d rather stay in bed dammit. Ha! So there.
Bring on the examples!
An example for point one (you don’t have to be kooky).
Robert Middleton. Amazon. The Small Business Association. There, three examples. All decidedly unkooky.
An example for point two (because it’s about being yourself out loud).
Okay. Mark Silver is a Sufi business coach who plays frisbee with Buddhists. What’s not to like?
An example for point three (and anyway there are no boring people).
You know who else thinks she’s not kooky and interesting?
Her Twitter bio says:
“Twenty years with brain injury has taught me: identify with love over limitation.”
Twenty years. With brain injury. And now she knows about identifying with love over limitation. So she’s teaching heart-meditation.
You’re intrigued, right? Of course you are!
Because hello, how is that not fascinating? Without knowing anything else about her, I was already one of her Right People just from that bio. Sold! Tell me more about your pet kangaroo.
An example for point four (but if there were, you could make the boring work for you, baby).
A year or so ago, through a series of excellent coincidences, I was eating crepes (crepes!) with Shannon.
We had a conversation that went kind of like this:
Shannon: There’s nothing to biggify about me because I’m boring. Boring boring life coach. Boring.
Me: Ohmygod. That’s a great angle. You should go with it.
Shannon: No, I’m serious.
Me: Right. So am I. You should brand yourself as That One Really Really Boring Life Coach. No, the Boring, Irrelevant Life Coach. I love it!
Me: And all your material should be like, this will not be even slightly interesting, because I am a supremely dull human being, but we will completely fix your problems because life coaching works — even though it’s really boring. See? Like that.
Shannon: Yeah! You don’t get boringness and irrelevancy of this caliber for nothing.
Me: Right! You could print business cards that say, Bored yet? You should be.
Shannon: Ooh! And my logo could be someone yawning extravagantly. Tagline: ‘lulling people to sleep with my lack of personality since 1997!’
Here’s the thing. Shannon is a kick in the pants. I love her.
But you know how it is. She forgot that she’s a kick in the pants.
And my theory is that once she remembered (i.e. once she’d given herself permission to not have to be brilliant and kooky) she started putting more of herself into her business.
And then amazing things started to happen. She fired her internal critic (“that crazy bastard has been replaced!”) and hired her dead uncle to take his place.
And now she’s kicking ass.
What I think happens.
People get it in their heads that they have to be all interesting.
And the pressure to be interesting makes them freeze up.
So that they can’t recognize what’s interesting. Or remember that it exists. Or access it. Or trust it.
Or trust that it’s okay to get geekily excited about things. Or to never get excited about things.
Or to speak in your own voice***, whatever that is, and know that — for someone out there — what you have to say has strength and meaning. And power.
These are all legitimately scary things and I don’t at all mean to imply that they’re not.
Dude. Scones in a tube! Pet kangaroo!
Not everyone is going to get all enthused about the stuff that you care about.
But if you care about it and talk about it, your Right People will be all yes yes yes tell me more.
And it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks because ohmygod scones in a tube.
We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. You know how it is.
And all this biggification stuff is trigger-ey. So hugs all around for the hard.