Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Murder the Average and become a Monument of Awesome

Average inhibits your ability to grow.
Average chokes your ability to matter.
Average numbs your ability to contribute.

And priding yourself on average means programming yourself for irrelevancy.

On the other hand…

Awesome is the invitation of success.
Awesome is the birthplace of meaningful.
Awesome is the quickest, shortest path to greatness.

And priding yourself on awesome means programming yourself for superiority.

Which one do you personify?
Which one does your brand embody?
Which one does your organization communicate?

Today we’re going to explore strategies to help you murder the average and become a monument of awesome:
1. Revel in your remarkability. The easiest way to murder the average of the future is to appreciate the awesome of the present. For example, take romantic relationships.

Ever see those disgustingly cute couples that actually show affection in public and enjoy each other’s company? You know, the ones whose mere presence completely pisses off anyone who’s been married for more than a year?

Not so fast, Dr. Phil. Instead of averting your eyes, remember what it feels like to feel that way. Remember how good love tastes when it’s fresh out of the box. Then, anchor the beauty of that beginning into your memory.

That way, before your relationship degrades into the predictable, boring, undersexed and complacent stalemate that most couples slide into after six months, you can nip it in the bud. All you have to do is enlist your emotional memory and remind yourself what awesome feels like.

The same goes for business, too: When the phones are ringing, when you’re busy enough to say no and when you’re profitable enough to reinvest, remember the aftertaste. It comes in handy during the times when all you can afford is rice and beans. Do you really need to watch another episode of Law & Order, or do you need to take your significant other out on a date?

2. Refuse to stand for the idle moment. One of the reasons I do what I do is because I’m ugly when I don’t. I don’t know about you, but idleness absolutely kills me. I think life’s far too interesting. There’s just too much fun to be had.

I’m not saying you should always to be busy – I’m saying you should never be bored. Incessant bouts of boredom are the mark of a boring person. And being bored is an utter insult to your company, your community, your creator and your creativity.

Look: Each of us has the habitual longing to make a mark that counts. And each of us needs to become thoroughly convinced that we’re destined for great things. But the footsteps of the human experience were not meant to be caked with vanilla frosting.

Enough half-measure living. Tap into your innate expressive capacity. Wage an ongoing war against boredom. Otherwise average will cling to you like a wet dish rag. When was the last time you were bored?

3. Decide who you’re done listening to. During my last semester of college, the business school faculty urged us to attend the campus career fair. It was a joke: Scores of identical, suit-clad seniors overexerting themselves to prove their salt to a bunch of corporate recruiters who couldn’t care less about their unique talents.

I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth a little.

So, instead of wasting my afternoon talking to bunch average companies that saw me as nothing more than a barcode, I took one lap around the gym, grabbed as much free candy as I possibly could, tossed my freshly printed stack of resumes in the trash and said, “Screw this – I’ve got a book to finish.”

Best decision I ever made. And as I look back, I now realize: Life’s too short to waste time doing things just because other people say it’s important. Murdering average means living according to your own experience, not according to the beliefs and dictates of society. It means peeling back the layers of expectation and conditioning that have encrusted your heart and mind.

And it’s not like I’m the first person to realize this. Even Jesus told people to do it: “Conform no longer to the pattern of this world."

Whether or not you believe in him, that’s still a powerful, relevant suggestion. You just have to be courageous enough to stand up and say, “I will take my potential elsewhere, thank you very much.” Will you allow your own visions to propel you on a quest for originality?

4. Learn to live out of your own center. Awesome is not something you create – it’s something you uncover. It’s something that already exists within you as part of your true identity. But you can only access it by taking a sledgehammer to the average.

This goes for people, brands, companies and organizations alike. In short: Anyone or anything that’s not currently running at full capacity.

And the secret is to think of it as a process of elimination. A process of chiseling. That’s what Michelangelo said: That the sculpture was already inside the stone. All we had to do was chip away.

Seriously. How much longer can you conform to some external template? How many more years can your company do work that’s unrecognizable to the people who matter most?

Maybe it’s time jettison accepted limits, leave familiar territory and override your defaults. Maybe it’s time to opt out of what everyone around you insists is wonderful. I’d hate for you to deny yourself the privilege of becoming fully human. When was the last time you recast your assumptions?

5. Delete people who bring your score down. People either lift you up or drag you down. They’re either debits or credits. And you can’t let anyone’s lack of passion cripple you.

The challenge is to become more discerning – not snobby, but discerning – about the people you allow to participate in your life. That’s how you deepen awesome: By finding cheerleaders. Dedicated supporters.

People who will adamantly refuse to let you stay where you are.
People who will believe in you more than you believe in yourself.
People who will call you on the carpet when you start to slide into the territory of average.

To figure out who these people are, consider asking questions like:

*Is this person a chronic abuser of my time and attention?
*Is this person kindling my awesomeness or enabling my averageness?
*Does this person add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it?

Remember: Without this continual flow of relational support, you won’t be able to sustain the inevitable blows delivered to those who choose the path of remarkability. What’s sad is, most people don’t realize how strong – or how weak – their support system is until the world collapses on top of them. Will you wait to find out?

6. Be the origin, not the echo. A few weeks ago I heard a fascinating interview on my community radio station. The lead singer of a local rock band shared his contempt for the abundance of average found in popular music. He suggested an idea for anyone trying to make it as an artist:

“Stop playing what other people are already copying.”

If you want to embed this idea into your own work, my suggestion is to create a mediocrity filter. A customized, self-accountability audit that keeps the average out. You might try posting a list of questions above your computer to remind you to be the origin, not the echo. For example:

*Would boring befriend this?
*What makes this distinct from the masses?
*How am I putting my personal stamp on this?
*What mediocrities do I need to set fire to?

Whatever it takes to prevent you from becoming a copy of a copy. Remember: There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t let your potential for awesome become blocked by the interference of average. Are you allowing your own visions to propel you on a quest for originality?

REMEMBER: You can’t spell the word “average” without the word “grave.”

Because that’s precisely the type of danger that awaits someone living a mediocre life.

The danger of not mattering.
The danger of melting into the multitude.
The danger of fading into the middling masses.

You can’t let this happen to you.

I challenge you to murder the average.

I challenge to become a person whose life – at every level – gives evidence of awesome.

Scott Stratten was right: People don't spread meh.

People spread awesome.

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

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