Do not be alarmed. This photo will make far more sense in a moment.
Look, Ma! I Named My Very Own Pandemic.
If you’ve been reading The Middle Finger Project for some time, you know that I’m not shy when it comes to making bold claims.
Today is no exception.
I’d like to share something that’s been tormenting me worse than those men who think it’s a good idea to kiss using the (very) unfortunate (and utterly disappointing) tornado tongue technique:
What does tornado tongue & ultra professionalism have in common? Absolutely nothing. But like an unpleasant make out session, ultra professionalism leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
In today’s world, being “professional” is put up there on the pedestal of life–it’s the ideal, the standard, the do-or-die way of the world. We bend over backwards to convey a “professional image,” and we expect others to do the same in return.
Wear your suit.
Be politically correct.
Speak in a formal register.
Don’t laugh too loudly.
Or too often.
And bear it.
While I support respectful working environments, and understand the need for certain universal protocols within that particular context, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend going on. I’d like to refer to it as The (Not So) Great Professionalism Pandemic.
You see, it’s a bit of a catch 22.
In order to be taken seriously, you’ve got to act professional. Yet, in order to act professional, you’ve got to be serious.
Being taken seriously = Acting serious.
And that’s where I cringe.
Unfortunately, The (Not So) Great Professionalism Pandemic hasn’t just affected how we act within corporate settings; it’s slowly started leaking over into our personalities, affecting who we are outside of the workplace. With the exception of Girls Gone Wild & Borat, we’ve become a very, very serious nation.
In general, we’re polite, but not overly welcoming. Friendly but not warm. Happy but not excited. A person but not quite a human.
From this perspective, going to great lengths to maintain a “professional” image is doing us more harm than good. When it crosses into our personal lives, and affects our ability to be genuine with those that we care about–since we’re so caught up in being taken seriously–is it worth it?
Is professional an ideal, or an ideal gone wrong?
I think it’s time we learned to lighten up. To open ourselves. To let vulnerability penetrate the professional walls we’ve built up around us, which serve not to protect us, but to isolate us.
Life is nothing more than a series of moments, which turn into a series of days, into a series of weeks and months and years and a whole lifetime; it isn’t meant to be a the straight-laced endeavor that we make it out to be.
A Silly Experiment
Last week, as a mini-experiment, I decided to forgo all that is professional; I tweeted out a silly photo of myself making a pretend gangster face (see image above), and put a call out to others to let me see theirs. I included the hashtag #gangstaface, and was interested to see how easy it would be to get others to drop their pride for a moment in exchange for a little innocent fun.
Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised.
Once I got the ball rolling, there were many of you who got down with your bad selves and sent in photos. While it may seem trivial, I thought it was fantastic; so many of you were willing to participate in something for the sheer sake of the fun of it. Told you I was going to include the photos here!
How about a round of applause for our participants?! Recognize any of them?
In any event, I learned a couple of things from this:
1. Apparently, pursed lips represent all that is gangsta. Note to self.
2. All of my readers are really, really good looking.
3. People will let out their inner child if they have an excuse to.
4. People aren’t as serious as they make themselves out to be.
This all comes as really good news. I don’t want to be interacting with professionals; I want human beings. I want people that aren’t afraid to be real.
Professional is not real; it’s a front we put on in order to seem important. It’s overrated. And after seeing everyone’s gangster faces, it’s been decided that those…yes, those are definitely underrated.
Speaking of gangstas, do you recognize this one?
If you don’t recognize him by face by now, I’d be shocked. It’s no other than the infamous Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle, and–yes–I taunted him until he sent me a gangster face.
You should know about him for three reasons:
1. He travels from country to country, staying at each for a period of 4 months, and having his readers vote on which place he visits next. That’s gangsta if I’ve ever seen it.
2. As if that wasn’t enough, Colin’s a minimalist who has managed to take his work with him on the road, as he experiments with location independence & proves to us that with enough determination, anything is possible. Viva le unconventional!
3. He proves my point that ultra professionalism is overrated with his new eBook, Networking Awesomely, where he pretty much unpacks every secret he’s learned on how to kick ass and take names in this world, and not one bit of it has to do with attending dry networking events or doing things in the traditional and “professional” way. Since Colin’s making 6 figures doing what he does, I’m pretty sure that we should probably be taking notes. In my opinion, the title doesn’t do the book justice; beyond networking, it’s much more about leveraging reality to get out there and take control of your life. Out with ultra professionalism, and in with new, innovative ways to make yourself known, form connections, and creatively catapult yourself into the lifestyle you want. (And deserve.) (Unless, of course, you’re a tornado tongue, in which case, you should probably buy an eBook on that, and STOP FINDING ME.)
Inappropriate comments about my personal life aside, big kudos out to Colin, who I respect and admire greatly as a mover and shaker in this world. He’s doing good things.
In the meantime, it’s important to keep in mind that human interactions aren’t business transactions. Let’s not treat them as such.
By the way, tornado tongue kisses really do exist. Can someone please do a webinar on remedying that?
Okay, I’m done this time.
P.S. Which of the gangster photos is your favorite? Who of the gangsters can you name? Leave a comment if you think you know some! Hint: Many are bloggers.