We’re part of a society that constantly pulls us down into the collective no matter how high we want to fly — only so that we cultivate a more agreeable (or amenable) behavior, mend our “weird” ways, and reduce ourselves to the average of the majority. But as I would ask (and I’m sure you would, too), is it really possible to average out things that we cannot even measure? Do you think we’re programmed to be part of a randomly picked “data set”?
That’s why in this episode, I get into the importance of being authentically YOU. As the legendary novelist, poet, and literary critic James Joyce once said, “In the particular is contained the universal.” YOU matter, and so do your opinions, thoughts, values, and aspirations.
So if you’re a “weirdo” or think you don’t fit in the lot, then know that it’s a gift you and I share in common. Learn to use it to your advantage. Design your world to your taste and be willing to be misunderstood.
A few points to note from the episode:
- [14:18] You must actively take a role in being unapologetically you.
- [16:37] Be willing to be misunderstood
- [19:04] Be true to yourself
- [19:12] Know your unique gifts AND your weakness to know where you are and how you could get to where you want to be.
Have a question? Shoot me a text at 1-206-309-5177.
Listen to the Podcast
Chase Jarvis: So you're a weirdo or maybe you don't think of yourself as weird, but maybe quirky or the things that you like best about yourself, you're just not quite sure how it lands or... Well, you've got something special that you believe that other people don't see, or ever feel misunderstood? I got to think that you, that every one of us, everyone who's listening right now has experienced this, right? Whether or not you identify is a weirdo or your own human or we are all our own human, and yet we live oftentimes, I would say most often, in this state of contradiction because we're moving through life, we're moving through a culture, through a society who's almost entire job, it seems like sometimes, is pushing us to be average.
Chase Jarvis: There's not some master plan that's trying to make you less than you were meant to be. However, this is part of the price that we pay of living in a mass culture. It's just easier for culture to manage things that move at the same rate of speed, things that look like other things, act like other things. We are, as a part of just specifically by participating in culture, pushed to be average.Now, if you look up the Miriam Webster dictionary's definition of average, it says, "A level that is typical of a group. A middle point between extremes. To have a medial value. To not be out of the ordinary or to be common."
Chase Jarvis: There's a crux that as I've stood on stages all over the world, as I've come off of those stages and engage with people, as I've listened to social channels, as I've learned from this podcast from other guests, my FaceTime with some of the best, highest performers in the world, best humans, and with people from a huge swath of backgrounds, race, gender, economic, socioeconomic, identity, all these different backgrounds, there is this awareness of average. What culture wants us to be and the conflict that we sometimes are uncertain of, like are we average? Should we be average? Should we fit in? And this is why I wanted to share this micro show with you.
Chase Jarvis: Now, I did a funny exercise in researching the show today. And this exercise is not going to be for everybody but if you happen to be a photographer or have any experience with the program Photoshop, this may resonate. And if you don't, that's fine because the point will be all the same. I took a great photograph, and then I put it in Photoshop, and I applied a blur and then I took a low level of blur, and what I noticed when I applied the blur is that lines started to fade. I could still make out the difference between colors, and shapes, and light and dark areas.
Chase Jarvis: And then I applied a medium amount of blur. Shapes started becoming indistinguishable, colors started to bleed into bigger patches, and even the difference between light and dark became less distinguishable. It all took on this sort of gray. And then if you apply a high amount of blur, what do you lose? You lose all shapes. There's almost no difference between light and dark. It almost is reduced to a single color. And then ironically, I'm poking around here in Photoshop, there is this dropdown menu filter, go to blur, and then average. You know what the average of a great photograph is? It ends up being just one color. This beautiful photograph is basically smashed into one homogenous, simple color.
Chase Jarvis: So it might be thought of as cliche to say, but it has to be said because we so often forget that we all have unique gifts that make us, us. We are one to 400 trillion. There's only going to be one of us in every 400 trillion goes. So why then are we taught to think of ourselves as average? Why does culture... Again, there's no evil genius making us average, but just the fact that we're participating in a society that's larger than ourself, and the fact that we're social animals, and the fact that there are a lot of us on this planet, why are we subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, programmed to ignore or mute our inherent talents, our individuality, our strengths, and the dynamic nature that you are in all your glory?
Chase Jarvis: Now, if we do too much deconstructing, we could lose the point. But I will let you know that if you were identifying with this right now, what I believe is most people think we're average in a lot of areas. We're exceptional in a couple, but I think it's healthier to think of ourselves as not average in most stuff. I think it's the other way around. We're unique in most stuff. I think it's a powerful vision to have for oneself and it also, I believe, unlocks a lot of joy and mitigates a lot of modern day stresses. So it's not your fault.
Chase Jarvis: We have a school system that, in many ways, is catered to the mean, and we understand why. It doesn't serve students who may have special needs in a particular area, and it may limit the capabilities or the potential of someone who has more aptitude in a particular subject. It often discourages thinking outside the box. You get a multiple choice test, you got one of five answers that you can choose from. Testing is generally about recalling skills and memorization and not around the application of complex concepts because it's very difficult to grade. It's very subjective. There's all kinds of reasons. In some cases, there's a curve, which literally pushes students to the middle.
Chase Jarvis: Now, outside of the school, there's just human nature. We are, after all, social creatures. It is not an evolutionary advantage or I shall say it is an evolutionary disadvantage to be a country, and to stand out, to be different because again, whether we like it or not, we're social creatures and there is a certain amount of our DNA that's programmed to come together, try and be successful as an overall unit rather than standing out. What I have said across all these different sort of areas of life for a long time, now I've written at length about this stuff, I've always worried about the middle. Stay out of the gray. That gray or that beige middle. And you've probably heard me say, "You can't stand out and fit in at the same time." And as we look around our lives, what does stand out to us? It's people, it's ideas, it's experiences that are unique.
Chase Jarvis: Right now, there is someone who you consider to be a mentor, or an inspiration, or someone that you look up to or read their books or follow them on social media, who stands out rather than fits in. And I'm guessing if you look closely, the reason they stand out is because they have applied some unique lens to the world, and that unique application caught your attention. Again, that is quite literally the definition of standing out. So if you think of that as being rewarded, wait a minute, it suddenly starts to cut against some of these commonly held ideas about that we're social animals, so we need to fit in. Well, certainly, we do, and yet who do we revere?
Chase Jarvis: Right now, there's someone who you're... Maybe you have paid attention to this podcast for a long time and you listen to it because it gives you ideas that other podcasts don't. In short, I just want you to stop underestimating the power of your specific experiences in this world, and importantly, when you create things that attune to that, because like James Joyce famously said, "In the particular is contained the universal." Your weird, unique, quirky self. Just by standing out and being unique.
Chase Jarvis: Other people can look at that and they don't think, "I want to be just like that." What's happening in their DNA at a subconscious level is, "Gosh, that makes me feel okay about me being unique and weird and different." It might manifest and wanting to be just like that person, but I believe psychologically what's going on is an awareness that that person's quirks helps me connect to them because I, too, am quirky and weird. And that, my friends, is a strength.
Chase Jarvis: So here's the punchline of this show. Let this be yet another reminder that you must actively take a role in being unapologetically you. There is only one you. Even the concept of an average is not really possible when talking about humans because conceptually, an average rate requires a data set, and you, my friend, are not a data set. You are just one, and therefore practically by definition rather, you are not an average. You are just one. That is precious. That is beautiful.
Chase Jarvis: Now, if it was easy, this wouldn't be a problem. I wouldn't be making a podcast. And yet there are some aspects of it that are easier than we give credit to. So how do we do this? Look, it would be a lifelong endeavor to make the perfect list or to write the perfect book on this topic, but there are a couple fundamentals that I would like to leave you with today as a part of the show. First, believing in being aware of knowing what you intend to do, to be, or become in this world makes everything easier. And having that thing that you want to be or that human that you want to become be clear, be prescient, be something that you intended will facilitate so much in your life. It will facilitate joy.
Chase Jarvis: The very awareness of who you are and what you're doing will make you strong in the face of criticism because you know you, and you are aware that the person who may be criticizing you, whether on the internet or in front of you, is not you, does not necessarily understand you. And that will give you personal power. That will give you strength. Not ultimate strength, not irrefutable, unwavering determination, but certainly believing in and knowing your intentions makes everything easier. You'll also be, if you can embrace being unapologetically you, you are all of a sudden willing to be misunderstood.
Chase Jarvis: I believe that is at the core of all of the best stuff in my life. Creating the first iPhone app that had photography as the basis for the social network, creating CreativeLive. I was willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time for years before people understood what it was that I was building or doing, doing with my photography business, for more than two decades ago because I was in fits and starts and spurts in an imperfect way, but just enough aware of my role in this world, my ability to unapologetically be me. I was willing to be misunderstood and that unlocked a lot.
Chase Jarvis: Another key for how to pursue this, how to do this is by doing a scenario analysis. What if the opposite were true? What if you abandoned who you were? How would that feel when you were on your deathbed at the end of your days? Probably pretty bad. In fact, it's the number one regret of the dying, that they lived their lives in service of other's visions for this one precious life. That is the number one thing, the number one regret of dying people. It's pretty easy to do a scenario analysis. Do you want to be that on your deathbed or do you want to take that wild, imperfect, imprecise, impassioned, rocky path to being unapologetically you? I think it's clear, and I want to make one thing extra clear that this is not going against what others believe. This is not a lifelong project of going against the grain. That's a very common misperception that sadly leads to lives of misery and disappointment.
Chase Jarvis: To contrast that, what I'm specifically saying is being true to yourself, spending enough time, spending energy to become aware of who you are, of your unique gifts, your strengths and your weaknesses because remember, you are both of those things, you are all of those things. But doing that is not only easier than going against the grain, this is our natural state if we can align with this, done well. Being unapologetically ourselves can be joyful, connected, free. This is our highest self. It's not effortless, but as you know, nothing worthwhile ever is. To wrap this up, as you leave your headphones here or as you finish your workout or get out of your car, your commute, you take your headphones off and reenter the world, please go forth. Do everything you can to be unapologetically you. Go forth and do it. I dare you.
Chase Jarvis: All right, that's it for today's show. But hey, before you go, I wanted you to know that I am so grateful to have your ears, your attention, have you be a part of the community around this show. I love reading all your messages, the texts that come in, the questions, feedback, stories, guest ideas. I devour every one of your comments, I respond as often as possible, and these are my thumbs tapping these things out on social and my phone number on the other side of the text. Oh, just in case you don't know that, did you know you can text me? 206-309-5177 with any feedback. Well, the first one's automated, but then that's actually my thumbs on the end of that.
Chase Jarvis: Again, I just want you to know that I make this show for you and for me, and this community has been a driving force in my life for more than 10 years now. I listen to you, I listen to your ideas, and I do everything I can to make them come to life. So thank you for participating. My ears, and eyes, and thumbs are out there on the internet trying to make this happen. I just want you to know how grateful I am, and I want you to stay tuned for the next episode coming soon.
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