Thursday, May 12, 2011

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be . . .

(NOTE: It's good to be back. I've had a lot of things change personally that demanded I take some time for personal reflection, and actually a little bit of maintenance. During that time, I realized some thoughts and concerns have been living rent-free in the back of my mind for a while. It's eviction time. This won't be the last thing I write like this, but it won't exactly become a site theme, either. This is me not being entertaining, but just being real . . . for me. In all honesty, this isn't "Sleepless Colin" writing. This is Sean.)

This isn’t about jobs. It isn’t about careers.

It’s not about being astronauts, Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, cowboys or President of the United States. Those are big things, granted. This is bigger.

What you do doesn’t define you. It speaks volumes about you. It can hint at your values, it can describe your paradigms and can even change you for better or worse. But it never defines you. That definition lies somewhere beneath, supporting everything.

What do I want to be? What I am never really changes. It can be hidden, obscured by battle scars, wounds, dents, dust and debris. But what we are never leaves once we define it and place our faith in it.

Do I want to be . . . “extraordinary”? Hm. Extra . . . ordinary. “Beyond ordinary.” Why should I care what defines ordinary? That’s far too subjective. It’s too fluid. That’s defining myself by someone else’s level. Screw that.

When I perform a dead-lift, does it have some material impact on me what the next guy at the rack lifts? Never. It never does. What he lifts won’t make me stronger. What I lift won’t make him stronger. It’s inconsequential. Odds are, we train differently, eat differently and maybe even have completely different builds. Sure, I can lift double my bodyweight on just about any given day. But I’m not a big man (5’9”, anywhere between 170 and 185 pounds, usually), so that may not seem like much to some. Likewise, I know guys with my height and weight who could probably lift about 50 percent more than I.

I respect that. But it ultimately doesn’t define who I am, what I achieve or how I approach what I do.

How about . . . “phenomenal”? Well, what is phenomenal, exactly? That’s somehow even more vague. That, to me, speaks to impressing somebody. That’s a path to misplaced priorities. I speak from experience.

Why care who I impress? I’ve many times steered myself off of good road trying too hard to impress people that I couldn’t see were inconsequential until I had the blinders off. The people I long hoped my blogs would eventually end up impressing, I’ve come to realize I probably should want nothing to do with because I ultimately can’t respect them. In the last year, I’ve learned some things about an early influence to how I write and my desire to generate an Internet media brand that frankly make me despise him. I wouldn’t have anything to do with him now, personally or professionally. The only thing left that I can respect is his talent. And ultimately, we can’t change to any significant degree how much talent for anything we all possess.

I will be . . . “electrifying.”

It’s a word often associated with one of my greatest personal influences, Dwayne Johnson. That’s right, snicker. The Rock.
It was always a phrase he associated with his character. “The most electrifying man in sports entertainment!” That’s because it’s active. It’s dynamic. It screams “change” and “impact.” It’s rooted in something that is really neither subjective nor deniable: causality.

“Electrifying” causes an effect. In any given sold-out arena since, oh, 1999 or so, when those throngs of fans heard “IF YA SAH-MELLLLLL . . .” the atmosphere became . . . electrified. The roar became deafening. I have been to professional sports events that haven’t even approached the explosion of excitement when Dwayne Johnson steps through a curtain and becomes The Rock. He changes the atmosphere when he enters any given arena at any given time.

That is electrifying. That is impact. But it goes beyond the reaction. He carved a niche for himself bigger than professional wrestling that few ever have, and none have on the level he’s achieved. He’s a Make A Wish Foundation legend and helps promote healthier lifestyle choices for parents and children through his The Rock Foundation charity – quite possibly the most electrifying things the former University of Miami All-American defensive end, multi-time WWE Champion and future WWE Hall of Famer has ever achieved. The world has been his spark’s conductor, and it’s carried the charge amazingly.

I want the things that I do to have a definite, undeniable impact. I want to be a game-changer. That doesn’t mean talking a big game. I can do that, and I often do. But it means I always want my actions to speak vastly louder than anything I could say. Being electrifying might be among the most liberating things one could be, because it's ceiling will never be talent-based, genetically-based, gender-based, creed-based, race-based, culture-based or based in anything else but the limits you give your desires. If you have the audacity to want something and make no bones about what you want, you can be truly electrifying. When I write a blog, I want it to generate views. I want it to generate buzz. I want comments. If you love it or you hate, either way, I have caused a reaction. I made you think for a moment.

When I write something for Geek Gems, nothing ever pleases me so much as high tweets and Facebook “likes”. That’s because I’ve sparked something. I’ve entertained somebody enough, informed them enough, that they passed it along and said “Check this out.”

If I review a movie and shred it, I hope that some laugh and others disagree. I want to be persuasive enough with what I say that I can win many over to my side, but the next best consolation is to start a conversation by making a sound point and having someone disagree. I’m bringing back mass communication’s inoculation theory: that unless your views and convictions are challenged, you’ll never be strong enough to defend them.

Make no mistake: this isn’t about popularity for me. Popularity is great. Being liked is, in fact, crucial to what I do. But the most important things lie beneath. The very worst sound I could possibly hear will never be “boo.” It’ll be silence. Wherever I write, whatever I do, I want it to be electrifying by being an example. That’s something distinctive. That’s something that echoes. That’s something truly remarkable, worth aspiring to be.

That is electrifying.

(While I’m at it, I don’t exaggerate that The Rock Foundation may rank among my favorite charities. I’ve you’ve ever chatted five minutes with me and seen the fire in my eyes when discussing health and fitness, you know that nothing frightens me in this world more than the possibility that the public will increasingly fund universal healthcare, despite more and more Americans taking worse care of themselves and hiking that shared burden.

Most of the most useful life lessons that have sunk in my life have been cemented in gyms, on basketball courts, in weight rooms and on treadmills. What Johnson does truly is valuable.

Please, visit to learn how you can help this cause.)