There is nobody like you, and there will never be anybody like you again. Nobody will have your same idiosyncrasies, your same experiences, your same dreams, passions and personal ghosts. Your uniqueness is what gives you your very existence. It’s what gives you your… funk.
As you mature and advance through life, you discover more and more that the barometers by which we’ve traditionally measured success are, quite frankly, ineffective and outdated. Experience is more valuable than your college GPA. Earnings are more important than extra credit. Social impact is more important than our collected accolades. You are the result of what happens to you.
The good news is, a majority of life’s choices are yours to make. You, and you alone, determine what happens to you. To live a fulfilling life, you’ve got to be authentic. Billionaire Chris Sacca calls it your “unapologetically weird self.” Be honest with yourself. If you feel the music in you, sing your fucking heart out. Dance while you’re in line for coffee. Tell jokes. Swing from trees. Play harmless pranks. Go on adventures. Make people smile. Have deep political conversations in different voices with vegetables you found in the organic food section because their stems are hysterically shaped like mouths and they oddly resemble the caricatures of a couple that lives together but kinda secretly hates each other’s guts… sorry, I got carried away there. My point is, whoever you are inside, the real you… that’s the funk, baby.
Perhaps the most important part about being your authentic self is that it’s okay for you to admit to your problems and failures. Failures are the best lessons that life can give us, and to hide them is to disregard the greatest teaching moments. Falling down is painful. Defeat is humbling. Loss is enlightening. How we respond to these moments, the darkest, hardest moments of our lives, gives us insight. These moments give us the most important emotion of all: empathy.
Empathy is the bridge of emotional connection that we build with one another. The bridge gets built through shared experience. Brick by brick. We are able to empathize with our best friends because we’ve been through so much with them. We’ve witnessed their decision making so we understand their thought process in dealing with a situation. We relate to strangers (or new friends) through our own previous experiences in the same or similar situations. If you’re a surfer, you can always empathize for another surfer that gets straight barreled by a double overhead. But empathy, true empathy, only comes about as a result of authenticity. You can’t lie your way past authenticity; it’s too honest.
If you do your best to bring honesty and true empathy into every situation, you’ll feel good about whatever you do. You may even find yourself drawn to helping others, drawing on the wisdom you’ve gathered from your own experiences to solve the difficult problems of others in a way only you know how. Look at Steve Jobs. Look at President Obama. Look at Dean Camen. Look at the hit, primetime reality television show Undercover Boss. Empathy can truly change the world.
Be authentic. Do what makes you happy. Find your funk, and save the world.
Check out this blog post if you haven’t read how I’m changing the world, aka. Saving Bees!