You are weird!
There, I said it. Depending on your interpretation of the word WEIRD, it is quite likely that you have taken my statement in one of two ways.
The first is as I expect many will is in a negative connotation. In a culture where homogenization is the new norm, it becomes hard to decipher brands and even individuals from one another. In an age filled with templates and presents creativity can feel as packaged as Helvetica over (insert hip new product here.
The second way (which I propose) is to embrace your weird and use it as a catalyst to propel your unique self, style, and brand. Visionaries like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Albert Einstein himself thrived on visions that others thought were weird, useless, and a waste of time. They embraced their weird and skyrocketed to success as a result of hard work, diligence, and following their inner voice.
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend Creative Mornings San Diego with my students. Creative Mornings is a worldwide global community that holds monthly lectures at various locations to encourage networking in our creative industry.
The topic featured guest speaker, Beck Bamberger, a San Diego businesswoman who prioritizes being Weird as a virtue. During her lecture, Beck got candid about the people and leaders that found inspiration such as Barack Obama. Beck articulated what qualities about them she wanted to possess. As she confidently walked about the stage with the presence of a veteran public speaker, Beck chronicled her story from awkward adolescent to a daring entrepreneur.
In her pursuit for courage, Beck began taking on new tasks to break out her shell. She learned to pilot a helicopter, taught how to panhandle, posed as a nude model, and continued to place herself in uncomfortable situations. Beck committed to take on tasks that some friends and colleagues deemed weird. Beck learned to embrace. And the payoff? Beck was able to gain new levels of confidence about herself and learned to be empathetic to the situations of others. A lesson she came to value not only for her business, but an idea she translates into living a life of integrity and authenticity.
"'Weird' no longer has a negative connotation and seems to now be considered a desirable label. Weird means something is an outlier, against the grain, and in most cases, doesn’t give a f*ck about being on the fringes. The most talented people on the planet, from Olympic medalists to self-made billionaires, are all weirdos."
-Beck Bamberger on The Practice of Being Uncomfortable
As creatives, it is imperative for us to embrace our weird and wear it like a coat of armor. Your unique qualities, skills, talents, and perceptions are the root of what your audiences' interests.
When you book new job or gig, its important to remember that you were selected for a reason. Someone out there felt something about your work and is counting on you to present them with YOUR best. Anything other than your authentic style not only demeans your own work, but sets you up for a precedent that you might not be able to follow.
What are some ways you can embrace your weird and break out of your comfort zone?
1. HONESTY IS KEY
We all have different triggers that make us feel uncomfortable. For some, the thought of public speaking is a nightmare and for others, it may be a delight. Be honest with what makes you uncomfortable so you can acknowledge what you need to work on.
2. DOCUMENT YOUR PROGRESS
Proof of results help to visualize your goal and allow for reflection as your make your gains. Join a new book club? Jot down the experience and how it made you feel. Over time, the nerves and insecurities will diminish and you can use the documentation to reflect on your growth.
3. STAY AUTHENTIC
Remember that this journey is yours and yours alone. Do not use this as a time to join in on the latest fad or to be like everyone else. Use this as a chance to fuel your self growth. Always wanted to salsa dance? Go for it! Having trouble focusing? Try meditation on for size. As long as the activities you engage in are safe and responsible, the sky is the limit.
4. HAVE FUN!
Stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing the qualities that make you unique can be scary. It can also be a fun and rewarding experience! At the end of the day, seeking growth outside of your comfort zone is for your benefit. It is meant to be enjoyable and will ultimately make you a stronger person.
5. SLOW & STEADY
Remember your progression is not a race to the finish line. Take small, realistic steps towards your goals and give yourself some praise--even after the smallest of wins. A slow and steady change over time results in long term growth and change.
Embrace your WEIRD! It is what makes you, you!
If this blog inspires you to embrace your weird and move out of your personal comfort zone, feel free to share with friends or comment below. What additional advice do you have for those attempting to break free from the limitations of their comfort zone?