Intentional is the New Cool

The 1990’s were an interesting time.  From Parachute pants to Al Bundy, it was a decade of personality.  Bill Clinton made smoking cigars cool again, although I heard Bush relegated them back to the status of “cancer causing”. This was a decade of mullets and grunge. Sad was the new happy.  I must have had the entire collection of the Bart Simpson “Aye Carumba” T-shirts. The 2012 comedy 21 Jump Street asked the ever nagging question of which is cooler, “back-pack on one shoulder or on two shoulders”.  I think the answer is two…two shoulders. What’s it mean to be cool.? Cool is trendy and fleeting. Cool 10 years ago is just stupid today! Cool is what people who haven’t defined their own “awesome” seek to become.  In essence, cool is someone else’s “awesome”.

The problem is that “awesome” is not a one size fits all…

pondering life

pondering life (Photo credit: Chimpr)

“I recently wrote about being influential rather than known.  While many people are known and influential,  too many are simply known (usually by chance) and do nothing with it.  Starting with your “why”, your actions must remain constant with your purpose.  It’s human to fall away from your purpose and your “why” in the heat of battle. Your purpose is clear and doesn’t change.  Trends and procedures change, but the ultimate goal does not.

When you live your life trying to be cool, you are living on someone else’s agenda.

If you like Guess jeans and a tight shirt, wear them.  Be yourself.  Don’t wear them because it’s what’s “cool”.  Nowhere is this more important than in your art.  Whether it be your writing, singing, crafting, or teaching, your art has value because it is YOUR art. You have a talent that should stand on its own.  Stay true to your purpose.  My purpose is to become Awesome by helping as many people themselves become awesome.  When I feel like my actions are being motivated by a need for validation, or anything other than my purpose, I stop. This is a dream killer. Living intentionally gives you the opportunity to filter these moments and get back on track.  Falling from your purpose and being so blinded by busy-ness to notice…that is not an excuse.  Living intentionally involves time for honest review and reflection.  Be on the look out for your motivations.  Inevitably they WILL get out of control.

What have you done in the last week that you did because it was cool?
Rocco De Leo

Your Awesome Needs an Antidote to Going Viral

The advent of social media forever changed the term “viral”. Myspace, and later Facebook, ignited the explosion of “going viral”.  Today it seems like a new social media outlet pops up everyday.  Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus are just a few.  I think I saw a cat chasing its tail get 25,000 likes on Instagram.  Who can forget the 2007 You tube sensation “Charlie bit my Finger”? Over half a billion people laughed at the little boy with the accent cry out “OUCH”!.   This is the essence of viral in the new age.  Long before the term “internet” was everyday language, a 58 year old Polish Cardinal was elected Pope.  Korol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II in the fall of 1978.  A key player in driving Communism from his native Poland, and later all of Europe, Pope John Paul II, along with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher influenced change that affected the world for decades to come. Communism, particularly the oppressive Soviet Union, has fallen from its once strong seat of power, and more people are better for it.

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Th...

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation wall at Former Check Point Charlie, Berlin. The photo documentation is permanently placed in the public. Türkçe: Berlin Duvarı, 1989 sonbaharı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In your search for awesomeness, be careful to avoid the “viral” trap.  Whether it be as simple as being the likeable sales rep with little sales and a huge personality, or the marketing faux paux of Disney’s environmentally aware Lorax campaigning for Mazda’s newest SUV, the sizzle doesn’t always sell the steak.  The sales rep without sales goes home hungry regardless of how likable he is.  The cute and colorful marketing campaign with contradicting messages doesn’t sell. They may be fun to watch, but no one really cares and no one changes for it. Influence is much harder to achieve and sustain than being viral.  Author and blogger Jon Acuff writes about doing work that matters, work that is vital, not just viral.  The secret to adding vitalness to the viralness is practice, practice, practice. A healthy level of self-awareness is needed to take a step back and work at your craft.   Understand your customer’s “Why” and connect with them, and make stuff that matters. Afterall, your goal is not to be well known, your goal is to be awesome.  That means you are positively influencing people by playing a vital role in their quest for awesome.

What one thing are you doing today to practice being awesome?

Rocco De Leo


Your “Why” is Much More than Bacon

I didn’t want a Mac computer.  I knew Windows very well and have owned numerous computers, all with Windows.  I was buying a new one every few years. Not so much because the technology need, but of necessity as my computers would get so clunky with spyware and viruses.   Last September, I found myself shopping again.  I decided to reflect on WHY I wanted a new computer before I decided on WHAT I would buy.   Instead of trying to get the most features for the least amount of money, I decided to start with the reason I hated the computer I was getting rid of.  It took approximately 11 minutes to start it up, and needed several re-boots per day.  That’s it.  I wanted something that simply worked.  I wanted the increased productivity and ease of use I dreamed a new computer would deliver.  Mac, not necessarily known as the most powerful computers (I don’t care), was known for simplicity.  A coworker showed me that his Mac Air rebooted in approximately 1 second.  My “Why” sold me because Mac’s features (at least one of them) aligned with it.   I am  much happier with the my Mac.

English: Slow down?

English: Slow down? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Understanding why we enjoy certain things can open us up to much more fulfillment.

Never is this more important than where we spend our careers.  Many employers assume we are motivated only by money and maybe promotability (because of money).   They miss out on so much.  Author, Ken Coleman talks about our “sweet spot”.  That spot where our passions and our skills intersect is where we are most valuable.  Imagine going to work doing work you love and excel.

The problem is  too many people are oblivious to their own passions.

They know some of what they are good at, but don’t know their passions.  Expecting the company to provide a road map of career development leaves employees feeling empty, regretful and underutilized. What will you do if you get promoted to the next “step” and you hate it.  Or SUCK at it. There are other roads to success, but you have to look in the mirror first.

Ask yourself Why?  Why do you do what you do?  Beyond the common need to bring home the bacon, you have a purpose.  Whether you can or can’t articulate it, something drives you.  I write this blog to get better at helping with  “tools” for people to get better at finding and achieving purpose in life, thus leading a more fulfilled life. This applies to my day job as well.   I have to remind myself that “followers”, “likes”, and “re posts”, are not my goal.  Knowing this allows me to continue with my work and not sweat things that don’t matter to me. I recently wrote on what happens when we forget the “why” . Our why is what makes us valuable and keeps us going when we feel tired and beaten.  Be intentional and reflect on why you are doing what you are doing.  Be honest and make sure it aligns with your morals and your over goals for your life.

What are you going to do TODAY to discover your sweet spot?

Rocco De Leo