Risk Being You

If you could erase everything you know about yourself, who would you become?

Imagine for a moment that you could let go of everything that makes up your identity: all your fears and self-doubts, all your past mistakes and experiences, all your family and friends, even the shape of your body and face, and all those weird things you don't like about your name.

Forget about what you look like. Forget about how you normally interact with people. Forget about how people usually respond to you and how you respond and act around other people. Forget what you think. Forget what you feel. Forget all of it.

Now imagine for a moment that you can start from scratch. You can recreate yourself to become anyone you like, a person with whatever personality and whatever traits you desire. 

If you've always wanted to be comfortable around other people, pretend for a moment that you suddenly gain the ability to be extremely relaxed and easygoing. Your confidence goes through the roof and you have no fear of judgement. You make friends easily and you have fun talking to strangers. When someone smiles and says hello, you not only smile and say hello back but you go out of your way to initiate a conversation because you're excited and intrigued about where it may lead and that alone feels worth more than being afraid.

If you've always wished you worried less and spent more time enjoying life and the company of those present, that you enjoyed doing things not because the timing was right but because they felt like the right thing to do, then pretend for a moment that you can suddenly embrace the joy of this moment with no doubt or hesitation, no questioning or analyzing, no reservation or delay.

If you've always wanted to speak your mind and be yourself no matter what others may think, pretend for a moment that in any given situation you will always say what's on your mind. You willingly open doors and you leave room for others to judge you because you're so confident in your own skin that it just doesn't matter. You'd rather let others know you for you — no matter what they may think — rather than let them judge you for who you're not.

If you've always wished that you didn't play it safe all the time, then pretend for a moment that in this newly created life all the characters and props that come with it will be wiped away soon and everything will start anew; it doesn't matter how risky the choice, how crazy the idea, or how absurd the potential outcome: they're all worth a shot because this is your only opportunity anyway.

Now recognize that none of this needs to be pretend.

You can start from scratch. Others who know something about you may hold onto what they know and believe, but you can let it all go.

Initiating conversations and talking to people always leads to more interesting and fun experiences.

Enjoying the company of those present and living day-to-day with a focus on what makes you happy and what opportunities lie ahead is always safer than doubting, over-analyzing, and waiting for the right moment.

Speaking your mind, leaving room for others to judge you, and not fearing the outcome of being yourself is always better than pretending to be someone you're not.

Taking chances on the things that feel right, exploring opportunities that could lead somewhere new, and believing in ideas that speak to you, is always worth any perceived risk; everything you know will turn to dust soon anyway.

Be the person you know you're supposed to be and stop pretending there are justifiable reasons to do otherwise. There is nothing worth avoiding who you are because who you are is worth more than anything you could risk.

Notes: You are part of the discussion

The following was written by Manuel Loigeret and I'm republishing it here with his permission.

I'm not awesome at social events but I am getting better. If you are like me, you think that you might not be interesting and people might find you boring. Imagine what the other person thinks: well this guy looks like a proud jerk who is too snob to be interested in me. That's probably not true and you feel the complete opposite but this is the signal you are sending. The only remedy is to go talk to people and let them know that it is ok to come talk to you. (I know: I did reinvent the wheel here) It can be awkward but it will be ok in the end. I promise you.

At some point I closed the comments on every new blog post I published. Because I wanted people to link to my posts if they wanted to contribute to the discussion. Nobody did. The real reason was that I was scared that someone criticized what I wrote, but I hid it behind a supposedly clever idea. The message I sent was: you are too stupid to be part of the conversation. I also cancelled my facebook account because I was scared of people seeing me change and they might have made fun of me. Ridiculous. Seriously it was snob and stupid. Like going to a party and not talking to anyone.

If you are online (on facebook, on a blog, on flickr or wherever), don't try to limit your access to people. Don't hide behind smart ideas of what is right and serious. Admit it, you are online for attention, so let the doors open.

Don't be a snob, you are already part of the discussion.

I think there are so many important lessons to be learned from this one post, especially with regard to not limiting access to people online and recognizing that our perspective isn't the only perspective we need to consider.

Communicate with Humans not Statistics

Have you noticed that the combination of global news, social media, and information and communication overload have dumbed down our senses? They've shifted the focus of our communication, whether that communication occurs at home, at work, at a party or networking event, or even on a blog with our readers.

Instead of talking one-on-one, we have meetings, conference calls, chat rooms, blogs, podcasts, and newsletters. We're forced to communicate with an ever growing audience. We try to communicate with everybody and as a result we genuinely speak to no one.

Communication is becoming de-humanized

Joseph Stalin said, "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic." Unfortunately, these days the same is true for communication: Interaction with one person is a conversation, interaction with ten million is a broadcast. Continue reading

Evolve or Die

I have long accepted my limited social abilities and, for lack of any good reason other than convenience, avoided any situations that may expose me to new social interactions. Limited social interaction alone would not normally be such a bad thing, but when it leads to neglecting interpersonal communication, especially with those you love, the end result can be disastrous and detrimental to life itself.

The Kalabarian analysis of my name says the following about my weaknesses:

Often I am so fired up about my own projects or goals that I inadvertently run over or ignore other people’s feelings and interests. Being receptive and appreciative of others’ contributions, ideas, and feelings would go a long way in improving my relationships.

Weaknesses should not be something to accept and ignore, but rather a guide for what needs the most attention! From this day onward, I will make a conscious effort to improve my interactions with others and learn to value any opportunities to improve my interpersonal communication skills.

To evolve or die means to learn to meet new challenges as they arise and overcome them or to remain stubborn and inflexible. We need to apply this lesson to our own self-imposed limitations in life. If we accept those limitations and let them define us, we exponentially decrease our potential for growth. We should not learn to accept who we are, but rather learn to accept that we are limitless beings.

Edit: I should mention that in this context to evolve means to continuously adapt and face challenges in life. To die means to live in a box and accept your perceived limitations.