Being true to yourself in the game of life is the best way to win the game. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to be cool. When you’re an adult is when the stakes count. It seems like a lot of people give up on the game of being cool and settle for whatever life gives them. It’s like they had higher expectations for what life was gonna do for them, than what they were gonna make happen for themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with any one path, unless it’s not a path that was meant for you. Then it’s definitely wrong. And if you know you’re on the wrong path, then you must also know in your heart that life could be different.
Being cool is about being true to yourself. Living a life authentic to you.
All it takes is three elements we each have inside: Personality, creativity, and curiosity. All three can be groomed. Developed. Cultivated.
Maybe you haven’t been authentic to yourself since you were a child. Maybe you just recently lost your way. I come from nothing. I started with nothing. And I still make a living being myself. So I know you can too. Just get on the path of cool and walk it out.
Being Cool Is About Being True To Yourself
I’m the 2nd place guy. Starting forward averaging 4 points per game on 2 shots taken. Never turned in homework, but Aced every test. Wasn’t the best on a skateboard, but I lived on it. I wasn’t the best rapper, bassist, or metal singer, but from age 15 to 24 I was the best entertainer on the bill any given weekend. Junior college drop out, retired hairstylist by 23. I was never the biggest stand out, but I didn’t exactly fit in. I’ve always struggled committing my identity to any one thing for long.
But I’ve worked for a company of one for the last seven years. I’ve been satisfied to starve and feast on my own terms. The world gave me my first sales training. My creativity was my first business venture and real-world experience was my only education. No connections, no money, no credentials. Just creativity, personality, and vision: A vision of being my true self for the rest of my life.
“It’s a hell of a responsibility to be yourself. It’s much easier to be somebody else, or nobody at all.”
– Sylvia Plath
Attention is the energy that keeps the life movie going. Attention helps us identify what’s true on the outside about what seems true on the inside. Attention is reception to your signal. Attention is a suggestion from the Universe about which direction your character could go.
Attention is the only true currency. Attention is the current of energy. Some people fear attention more than others. But attention is the only signal we get from the external environment. As such, attention is an invaluable resource on the journey of cool.
But, I never took disses and public criticism seriously. because in my mind, nobody was cooler than me. Who cares what they think? They don’t know cool.
Who knows cool more than you? Nobody.
Don’t let other people’s perception of you change your self-image. Cool people don’t take “no” personally, and that allows them to move from one experience to another with no loss of enthusiasm. Sound delusional? Cool people accept a healthy margin of self-delusion. When we’re kids they told us it was our imagination. Do what’s interesting to you. Express your imagination.
If it’s cool, own it. If I think it’s cool too, that means we’re both cool. If I don’t, who cares? You know cool.
Now here’s how:
Life is easier when you’re well-liked.
If I have any advantage in life, it’s being well-socialized. My parents put me in preschool, sent me to church groups, and piano recitals by age four. I’m the youngest of four by 10, 12, and 14 years – My siblings were teenagers in my pacifier days. Whatever it was, being well-socialized gives me tangible advantages in life.
As a christian missionary at an early age my social personality helped me establish friendships all over the world. It helped me establish myself in church communities very easily. Having a social personality helped me when i was in a rock band, networking with other bands and artists. Which lead to me getting more gigs, lead to me making great friendships, going on tours with other bands, traveling more, and becoming well-liked in the music scenes that I was a part of. When I was starting in business and had no network it helped me get my first clients, and they didn’t just pay me, they liked me as a person. They took me under their wing and befriended me.
Life is easier when you’re likable, and it’s a skill anyone can develop.
Once I realized this was my superstrength, I started leveling it up on purpose by reading books, selling a service, and making new friends.
Social dynamics is a game we all play every day in our relationships, networks, and jobs.
Being ignorant to the rules of the game doesn’t absolve you of the consequences of breaking them. If you don’t like the outcomes you’re getting in life, discover the rules to the games you are playing.
Those who win know the rules, and use them to their advantage. The only difference separating winners from losers is their habits, or most consistent actions taken in the game. That’s something we can each improve for ourselves.
Getting good at social games doesn’t happen all at once. It’s like starting a new job. On the first day, you’re nervous because you’re setting a higher expectation of yourself. Bigger shoes to fill. The shoes of your higher identity. It takes time to get comfortable in those shoes. You might not notice progress more than every 3-6 months.
If you believe in a direction, you will start heading in that direction. You’ll generate positive momentum by trusting yourself, and naturally start to assume your newly framed identity.
- Read books improving social skills: Some of my favorites: How to win friends and influence people, Influence, Never Split The Difference, The Greatest Salesman In The World
- Set practical side quests: Level 1: Say hi to a few strangers. Level 3: Ask the girl at Starbucks to have a chat for two minutes. Level 10: Ask your boss for the position you deserve.
- Get involved in new social groups: The people you’re connected to will determine so much of your paradigm and thus your potential reality. Get new interests and get around people who like those interests and watch your world change.
The human design is a creating-machine. Everyone is creative. Some people are highly creative. But no one is using their creativity to its full potential.
Fitting in hurts creative potential. Being true to yourself aids creative potential. Creating is a self-alchemy process we use for self-discovery.
Think about it: You’re laying in bed, hungry for breakfast. A desire for something you don’t have. Then you get an idea: The cafe down the street serves hot fresh bagel sandwiches. We have a desire for something we don’t have. Then we get an idea. A special little idea in the form of an image pops into our mind. It’s an image of the future. In the form of an object, an action, or words to say. Now the desire can be fulfilled.
Creating is our metamorphosis. When you have a vision, which leads you to build a wooden table, tie-dye a t- shirt, butter a perfect rib-eye, or start a service-based business, you become a truer version of yourself.
Following your intuitive desires is creativity 101. Not trying to satisfy your base animal desires: Hunger, sex, greed, but that deeper, quieter, persisting desire – Like a gnawing whisper it calls you from the deep of your soul. It smells like a childhood memory. It tastes like the last time you felt true to yourself.
Being creative means not taking “no”, personally. You’re never gonna get permission. It’s hard to convince someone who doesn’t know what’s cool. Only you can give yourself permission to be yourself. Nobody knows what’s tugging at your soul but you. Nobody knows what you’ve been burying deep inside but you. And nobody but you will pay the price in the end, for a life of ignoring your soul’s call.
“Now is the Creative point of Life.” – Alan Watts
Creativity can only happen in the now. You can’t put off being creative for tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. Who you are tomorrow depends on what you do today. If today you put it off for tomorrow, your tomorrow self will be someone who puts it off for tomorrow. Creativity must happen in the Now. Every decision you make toward changing yourself must happen now for tomorrow is as far away as infinity.
To be Creative, create now. Cultivate habits of creating more frequently. Make creating easy. Give yourself easy access to pen and paper. Keep plugged in your guitar. Keep out your tools.
Surround yourself with people who are in the Creative way. You want to see other people being true to themselves when you look up from your craft.
Follow your curiosity. Curiosity is your intuition at work. You can ignore your curiosity, but that won’t lead you to an authentic life.
Imagination is your inner guidance signal. Ideas are foresight into the future. It’s your responsibility to use the tools at hand to make them a reality.
Have the heart to ask the questions of your subconscious mind that no one is willing to ask themselves for fear of the answers they might receive. Embrace that divine gift of curiosity! You have something burning inside of you, being given to you by something greater, deeper, beyond you. That’s simply so divinely, cosmically amazing. Curiosity is a gift from the Universe.
Having a job that isn’t “you” doesn’t have to hinder you. Never let a job define your identity. Jobs are paid experiences. Tomorrow you can be something completely different. You can get a new job every day. You are not your resume.
Being professionally curious means finding ways to turn your curiosities into useful skills. Finding ways to connect your skills with a service or product you can provide a business or person.
Almost anyone can turn a curiosity into a functional skill or craft and provide it as a service or product. There are too many examples of people generating new lifestyles and streams of income based on creative curiosities for me to list. From flipping collectibles on eBay, to crafting handmade items, to creating niche online communities, and even creative consulting as a service.
Being Cool For A Living
Eventually we all have to decide who we want to be, or die someone we’re not. I stopped clinging to what was keeping me from living an authentic life. I decided who I wanted to be.
The path to authenticity has been hell, but also heaven. A worse hell is doing stuff that isn’t true to me. Freedom gives life a sweet fragrance, and you forget it when you don’t have it. It’s not all ups and downs, but neither is serving society’s life sentence. The downs don’t hurt as bad and the ups feel so much better when you create them yourself. When they come from cultivating, grooming, and developing your authentic self.
Special thanks to Arthur Plainview, Lyssa Menard, Alexandra Allen, Karena De Souza, and Laila Faisal for all your help with this essay.