One of my blogging heroes and life inspirations, Chris Guillebeau (who actually IS awesome, by the way) discusses the concept of ‘going and being awesome’ on his site, the Art of Non Conformity.
At the heart of this premise is the notion that nothing else really matters, if you embody ‘awesome’.
If you really think about it, on a bigger picture macro level- how much does that degree or that long climb up the corporate ladder really mean in the scheme of things? At the fundamental level, should we really invest that much importance in these supposed milestones, big ticket purchases, new cars, mortgages etc?
Guilllebeau, as much as he is inspirational, is a realist. He understands the frustrations and challenges that telling someone to “go and be awesome” can pose, even to people who are completely capable of being awesome.
So that’s why he’s composed a list to help us on our way along the path to being bigger, better and more awesome. A cyber hand hold to show you how to really “be awesome”!
Thanks to The Art of Non Conformity for the forthcoming very useful advice:
1. FIRST UP
Think about this every day: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~ Ayn RandIf you aren’t comfortable with this attitude, it’s hard to be awesome. Sorry. You can be good enough without being assertive, but to a large extent, being awesome requires that you initiate, take action, and chart your own course through the norms of mediocrity.
2. HARD WORK
Working your ass off, at least during specific seasons in life, is also a prerequisite for being awesome. This is huge- if you don’t like hard work, good luck. I hung out with J.D. Roth in Portland a few weeks ago, and we talked about the big success of his personal finance site. Guess how many hours a week he has worked on the site since going full-time last year? 60 HOURS EVERY WEEK. That’s right, aspiring bloggers – you too can have 70,000+ readers and write your own ticket to internet fame – but it won’t happen by playing WoW every night. The same principle holds true with most other work that is worth doing. Yes, I know about things like life / work balance, taking time off to rest, and so on. Those are things you do after you’ve created your world of awesomeness. Jason Calacanis put it best, “If you want to work 9-5, get a job at the Post Office.” Still reading? As mentioned, those first two are prerequisites. They also serve as filters, because lots of people give up on self-determination and hard work. Assuming you can stick with it, it gets easier from here on out.
3. THE GENERAL WORKPLACE
In any given work environment, almost everyone is focused on one goal: to make themselves look good. If you can change things around and focus on making other people look good, you’re well on the way to being awesome. In some environments (certainly academia), this is exceedingly rare behavior. Showing up to work is expected. Showing up early, prepared, and with a good attitude is remarkable (sadly). Present solutions, not problems. If you can present solutions to other people’s problems, you’ll go far. Contribute big ideas, including some that you know are likely to fail. You’ve probably heard this before: “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it.” To be awesome, be the busy person who gets things done.
A wise person once told me, you don’t have to be the first person replying to every convoluted email thread. That just shows everyone that you live on your email. Instead, show up at the end and contribute something of value. Your comments will come to be viewed as the deciding word instead of the kneejerk reaction. The next time, people will look forward to your response and wonder what’s wrong when you haven’t written in. Don’t use rude autoresponders. A rude autoresponder looks like this: What were you thinking in writing to me? I am too important to be bothered by inane requests like yours. I may or may not get back to you, and if I do, it will probably be a while. Have a nice day. Those are not the exact words (usually), but that’s the implied message. If you must use an autoresponder, like when you are traveling or otherwise not checking email very often, be polite and gracious.
Overdeliver in your personal relationships. Give more than you get. Never find yourself in relationship debt. Never make excuses about being too busy, not having enough time, etc. People who are awesome make time for what’s important to them. From time to time, you’ll screw up. This is how you apologize: “I’m really sorry. It was completely my fault. I hope you’ll forgive me, and here is how I am addressing this in the future.” If you forget to do something you’ve committed to do but remember it later, do it right when you remember. Buy thank-you cards and write 2-3 every day. Use your calendar to keep up with the birthdays of as many people as possible. Write real birthday notes or cards instead of Facebook posts. Whenever a casual relationship is coming to a close (the class ends, colleagues move to another project, etc.) write the person a quick email. “I enjoyed working with you… thanks for doing a good job.” When bad things happen, you can forgive the following: mistakes, weaknesses, shortcomings. (No one is exempt from these things, even awesome people.) When bad things happen, you should worry about the following: dishonesty, passive aggressive behavior, chronic tardiness, whininess. (These patterns do not usually get better with time.) Practice the art of radical exclusion with people who waste your time. This is NOT being impolite – it is showing respect for the people you have committed to serve. Remember that people will basically act the same no matter who they are around. If the people you hang out with are always complaining about other people, chances are they probably complain about you too. The point is: don’t put others down when they’re not around, or at least make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you say being repeated.
6. GOOD VERSUS EVIL
Reward the behavior of other awesome people, and stop rewarding mediocrity. Tip 20-25% for good service at a restaurant. For the rare occasion when service is awful, don’t tip at all. When you find yourself in a conversation with someone who likes to argue all the time, you may be tempted to respond, but you’ll regret it in the end. Just walk away. Always focus on core motivations. When presented with a request, analyze the situation by thinking about exactly what the person wants from you. (Hint: it is not always what they are explicitly asking for.) Keep up the positive momentum. Look to the future, not the past. Never be a critic without presenting an alternative. Remember that no statues are erected to critics, and no one is remembered for shooting down other people’s ideas.
Got that? Good. Now- go and be awesome, its well within your reach!
YO! Please feel free to send me your comments!!!