Oct 10, 2011
When rules are unspoken, it’s challenging to know what they are. I did not realize that this rule existed for many geeks in the Netherlands or at least for many web developers attending Fronteers. What happens when you don’t follow the rules can be very interesting. Maybe it’s better that I didn’t know the first rule of Make Awesomeness Club because as Katharine Hepburn once said, “if you obey all the rules you miss all of the fun.”
Throughout the day, before I presented at Fronteers, conference attendees came up to me and said things like, "your presentation is going to be a lot different from the others...yours is going to be inspirational." When people said this, they were not implying that the other presentations were not going to be inspiring. What they were implying was that my presentation's topic was "inspiration" itself.
In hindsight, some of the attendees were really thinking:
"We're at a web development conference and you're going to talk to us about being human? And what, there won't be any code snippets...no live coding on stage...no talk about technology? Are you crazy? We don’t talk about personal growth here! Those are the first and second rules in Make Awesomeness Club: you do not talk about Make Awesomeness Club!”
So talking about Make Awesomeness is against the rules but tweeting is definitely not. The tweets during my presentation about my presentation, ranged from: this is “too motivational” to “a really passionate and inspirational talk about how to become better. Awesome!” Looking back on the tweets, they were mostly very positive and people were very engaged.
What happened after the presentation was fascinating. Attendees started seeking me out to talk about making awesomeness. They were not afraid to quietly break the first two rules of Make Awesomeness Club. However, each person would start the conversation with: “I don’t want to say this too loudly, but I really enjoyed your presentation.” Then, they would share a story with me about how making awesomeness fit into his or her life. Sometimes the conversation led to tears and sometimes it led to laughter. Each time I learned something and every time I was very honored that the person shared such a personal story with me.
This was also fascinating; attendees came up to speak with me one-on-one. It might be because the stories they shared were very personal. Many people asked specific questions about making career and life transitions. This kind of conversation can be easier when it is one-on-one, especially when breaking the first two rules of Make Awesomeness Club.
Through the stories people shared with me, I realized just how many people wear invisible capes. Why invisible? Well, for a couple of reasons:
If you’re not allowed to talk about Make Awesomeness Club, then nobody can know that you’re in it. Sometimes, it’s necessary to have a cloaked cape.
The day after my presentation was really interesting. More people came up to me disregarding the first and second rules of Make Awesomeness Club yet following the fourth and fifth rules.
One attendee said that, “it took time for it to percolate overnight.” Another said, “I’m just not use to thinking like this.” More stories were shared. More connections were made.
One person let me know that on their train ride home, the night before, he was sitting and sketching when a man came up to him to talk. It turned out that the man taught 12-13 year old students. Their conversation progressed and the Fronteer attendee learned that the teacher was looking for a web developer to connect with his students. They got off the train, grabbed a beer, and exchanged information. Now, this web developer is going to make awesomeness and do good by helping the teacher’s students learn web development. He told me that he had just left the conference and my presentation was on his mind so he knew it must be something that he should and would like to do.
We tend to balk at something that is different. However, when we act in unexpected ways and share unexpected ideas, unexpected learning occurs. We often resist change, which means we miss a lot of opportunities. In order to really learn and to really grow both personally and professionally, we have to be open to new ideas.
Our field is young but hopefully soon we’ll reach a point when making awesomeness is widely and publically accepted. Let’s hope that soon—if not immediately—we will be able to share our stories and support each other in the steps that we take to make awesomeness and to do good.
As Douglas MacArthur said, “you are remembered for the rules you break.” So let’s get together and break the rules of Make Awesomeness Club—okay, let’s not break the eighth and final rule—let’s all make, share, and support awesomeness.
Image modified from photo taken by savor_soaps.