:: When I first started having sex, I worried I wouldn’t be sexy enough–and that I’d be a sore disappointment.
:: When I worked in advertising sales, the first time I ever had to do a nation-wide cold-calling contest…I was so wracked with nerves, I sat at my desk shaking, sipping vodka from a thermos.
:: There was a point in my life when I was so self-conscious, that anytime I talked, I was certain the other person was wishing I would shut up.
:: And many times, rather than face the awkward moment when the check comes, I’ve paid the bill while he was in the bathroom.
Do you know why I’m telling you these things right now?–
Because these are the hopelessly honest things that make me human.
And those hopelessly honest things are the same exact reason you’re still reading–because you’re human, too, and underneath every layer, every wall, every superimposed facade…you’re relieved you aren’t the only vulnerable one.
When you read things like that, you’re relieved that someone else goes through/thinks/does those things, too. You’re relieved, you’re validated, you’re reassured, you’re comforted and you’re thanking christ you aren’t the only one. It makes you feel like we’re all in it together. It makes you feel a little less detached, and a little more understood.
It makes you feel like, despite your flaws, you’re okay after all.
And so when you turn around and tell fiercely honest stories–the kinds of stories that make you utterly, unapologetically human–you make others feel better about who they are. And when others feel better about who they are, they’ll tend to want to be around you more. Or your writing. Or your photographs. Or your artwork.
The key to success isn’t about rising to the top.
Rather, it’s about getting to the bottom.
The bottom of humanity–the place where we’re all connected, in some way or another–and leveraging that to pull all of us up together.
Kind of like a big group wedgie.
The only rule?
Rock out with your human out only with regards to the past. If you start telling us how you’re secretly cutting yourself every night from anxiety that you’ll never get enough clients to survive, we aren’t going to think you’re more human; we’re going to think you’re a whiny fucking lunatic. (Who we’ll never hire.)
Tell us, instead, how 6 years ago you were cutting yourself from anxiety, and then OVERCAME IT WENT ON TO HAVE SO MANY CLIENTS, YOU THEN NEEDED TO TAKE ON 13 ASSISTANTS AND A PET RHINO JUST FOR FUN. Now you aren’t a lunatic; you’re a war hero. In terms of credibility, when talking about your fuck-ups for the sake of connection:
Past fuck-ups make you wise.
Present fuck-ups make you a fuck-up.
This is why 67 Emotions was written waaaaaay after the fact.
This is how I can tell stories of illegal immigrants and sleeping in my car.
This is how I can talk about the time I cold-heartedly dragged my dying mother down the sidewalk.
And this is how I can suddenly announce that, unbeknownst to all, I built TMFproject up from the ground and wrote my first book using an old Acer notebook that made my fingers cramp.
Because these things aren’t happening now. These are things that happened in the past, and these are things that I’ve been able to draw important lessons from, and use to better myself.In order for your fuck ups to be useful, and to serve as learning tools, you’ve got to be in a place where you’ve got some perspective, and can reflect to draw out a greater message.
And when you do reach that place?
Then it’s time to get shockingly honest. Because, as you’ll find, what you might think is shocking? 100 other people have gone through/done/thought the same thing.
It’s about digging deep, and pulling out the greater human truths that connect us all.
The ones we’re too embarrassed to admit. The ones we hide from others. The ones we fret over. And the ones that, at the end of the day, are secretly your greatest victories. Because, after all, they make you REAL.
And real wins in the game of business.
In the game of publishing.
In the game of life.
And in the bedroom, during cold-call competitions, in conversations, and on that first date, too.
Though when in doubt…
…There’s always that thermos of vodka.
Just do yourself a favor.
And remember to bring a chaser.
Especially if your boss is nearby.