“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you say to someone when you’re being uncool.” — Almost Famous
When I saw that quote on screen during Brené Brown’s opening presentation on “vulnerability, shame, courage, and authenticity” at the 2012 World Domination Summit, I knew my eyes and ears were about to undergo an experience I might not be able to fully comprehend in real time. Almost a month later, I am still reeling from the experience.
The Summit, in its second year, is put on by Chris Guillebeau, writer of the blog The Art of Non-Conformity, and volunteers, to discuss non-conformity in a world that fears change, and the actions we can take to live the life we want.
As I sat in rooms with these world changers, I could not stop thinking about the Etsy community. We — makers, artists, and sellers – are taking the steps to execute our own unique dreams, and everyone I talked to wanted the same information on how. The points below are the ones that really stuck to my ribs and that I want to share with you:
Now is the time. In the words of Chris Brogan, a digital community specialist and blogger, “It is not who you say you are, it is what you do.” The idea that you have to research and know everything about something before you can get started is not necessary; it is our way of holding ourselves back. Instead, embrace your weirdness — “You will succeed the weirder you are.” When you do things, you defy the idea that you can’t.
“Become exceptional at your job.” Cal Newport, a writer and assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University, says, “The path to a passionate life is a complicated path. It’s not as easy as follow your passion.” His rule for making this happen: work hard to get good at something that is rare and valuable (become exceptional) and then use it as leverage, like a currency, to trade it for the traits that give you a remarkable life.
No one is fearless. Respect your fear. Danielle LaPorte boldly said, “Respect fear and remember that you get to tell it where to be.” Visualize it as placing your emotions, whatever they are (excitement, fear, anxiety, caution, etc.), in seats on a bus. Think about each one and what it’s telling you, and then decide who sits in the front, behind you, all the way through the back. Accept that fear and then place it appropriately.
The power of yes. According to J.D. Roth, you should practice saying yes to everything that comes your way. Saying yes can lead to a chain of events that drive to change. After you say yes, you have to learn how to focus and say no. Say no to the things that don’t excite you so that you can say “hell yeah” to the things that do. That’s when action can happen.
Be vulnerable. Be uncool. Brene Brown has spent a decade studying vulnerability and she led us through a 1,000-person karaoke version of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey (talk about risk!) to prove that vulnerability is worth showing. Vulnerability requires scary things: risk + emotional exposure + uncertainty. The benefit of feeling these things is emotional connection and a sense of belonging. There are three things that vulnerable people do: choose gratitude and joy over scarcity; creativity over comparison; and contribution over criticism and cynicism.
How can you take these gems and incorporate them into your personal and professional lives? Start by stepping away from the computer and taking some deep breaths. Once you’re calm, think about your current fears. Are they stopping you from creating a new product line? From doing your first outdoor market, or maybe contacting a shop about potential wholesale opportunities? Listen to the fear and then place it along with whatever emotions you’re feeling.
Once you’ve done that, look at what opportunities are out there. Maybe your local Etsy team is looking for sellers for a market and you can sign up. Or maybe a friend of yours wants you to take a class with them and while it isn’t your cup of tea, you say yes, anyway. These steps will create traction that can change the entire course of your life. Who knows who you’ll meet, what you’ll become obsessed with, and potentially include in your work that can become an asset to creating the kind of life you want to live.
I feel confident that as you make these changes and set actions into place, you’ll see yourself experiencing joy and gratitude and opening yourself up to more emotional experiences furthering your growth, or in the words of Brené Brown, you’ll “Go forth and be uncool!”