Kaleidoscope 26/40: Two Grand Contradictions — A treatise on remarkability

Kaleidoscope 26/40: Two Grand Contradictions — A treatise on remarkability
A staircase to everywhere

Hi Friends!

Yesterday we chatted about aligning our ambitions with what we actually want — usually, this means downsizing.

Today, we're going to talk about making bigger, bolder, crazier ambitions.

Contradictory much? Yes and no.

I've come to embrace that the opposite of any great truth is not a falsehood, but another truth.

Its from this paradox — this tension — that the best, most beautiful and powerful ideas arise.

So lets get playful, embrace the uncertainty and run towards the tension.

What would it take to make this remarkable?

Remarkable is a funny word. A lot of people take it to mean 'awesome' but I encourage you to think about it differently:

Being remarkable means — quite literally — being worthy of remark.

So this question begs the question of how you can be so unexpected, so excellent or so above and beyond that people will literally comment on it.

That's not what most people aim for.

Most people play it safe. In fact, most people do NOT want comments – they are afraid of eliciting remarks.

Not all remarks are compliments — being remarkable can hurt.

There is nothing wrong with playing it safe or choosing not to be remarkable. We all do it.

There are places — big important places — in my life where I very much play it safe, on purpose.

But for some ambitions, playing it safe isn't what the heart wants.

For me, admittedly, that's a lot of the time.

One of my early mentors was Keith Ferazzi. I met him randomly on an airplane before he became a thought leader.

Early in his career he wore a bowtie to every event he went to — especially if he was speaking. He found that it gave people an easy way to remark on him — 'you know, the guy with the bowtie' and easy recognition in the room 'oh, that's the guy who was up on stage!'

He used a bowtie as a shortcut to being worthy of remark.

Not all forms of remarkability are equal — Keith wearing a bowtie was memorable and worthy of comment, but not in the way he actually wanted.

I've found myself and lots of people I coach fall into this trap. We find something that "works" and lean into it, even when its shallow and not fully aligned.

It's like a YouTube thumbnail that gets attention but doesn't allow you to make the films you actually want to make...

Or, of course, it could look like a bowtie.

They key question to find the best kind of remarkability: What does a 10x / 100x / 1000x version of this idea look like?

Many moons ago, my old friend Chris was just one of many, many travel bloggers. He had a small, but highly engaged following, until he made one decision that changed everything.

Rather than be a frequent traveller / travel hacker, Chris decided he was going to visit every single country in the world within 5 years.

Now, is this an ambition that I would aspire to? Hell no. It often looked like a day, maybe two, in far flung locations. In the way he did it, the grand adventure was largely in the travel — the actual logistics of planes, trains and automobiles.

But Chris loved it.

By aiming for the 'easy to remark upon' ambition of traveling to every country, Chris was able to expand and grow far beyond his wildest dreams at that point.

I chose this story specifically because it brings up a really strong lesson:

What is remarkable changes over time. And its changing even faster with the speed of the internet & social media.

Today, a traveler who announces this ambition would get a fraction of the traction that Chris was able to achieve.

It's been done. Its not as worthy of remark (in that community).

The fact that being remarkable is an ever-moving target is what makes being remarkable SO INCREDIBLY FUN... and also SO EXHAUSTING.

And that is yet another grand contradiction in life.

And also why I do not even pretend to aim at being remarkable at everything.

When your heart calls for it, I highly encourage you to ask yourself what it would take to make it remarkable.

Until Tomorrow,