Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Secret Path to Cool: What It Takes to Become the Most Popular Kid in School

It took me 20 years to learn this. It’s the secret to becoming “cool” — something I never quite grasped — to getting girls to like you and becoming the most popular kid in school.

It’s also the key to a breakout career that turns fledgling writers into best-selling authors and mediocre musicians into world-famous artists.

Fonze

Photo Credit: anneh632 via Compfight cc

What is it? Stop trying so hard.

To be liked.
To be accepted.
To be known.

What Bono knows (that you don’t)

There’s something important that rock stars understand that the rest of us don’t. In order to get people to like you, you have to stop caring — at least, a little.

Granted, not everyone who’s popular does this. Some obsess over status: how many Facebook friends they have, how many books they’ve sold, how many numbers they’ve got stored in their smartphone.

But the true leaders and world’s greatest artists set a new standard. They do their work effortlessly. They don’t even have to try — or so we think. They’re just so, well, cool.

And this endears us to them even more. We love them for not caring, for not competing for our attention or trying to keep up with the status quo.

Of course, we all know that it probably takes lots of effort to make it look so easy, but it’s their attitude that makes us love them. Such ambivalence inspires the rest of us to be more daring.

It’s not really about not caring

Why do we find this attitude of indifference so inspiring? Because it’s uncommon to be fearless. It’s rare to risk rejection and be true to who you really are.

The secret to becoming cool, then, isn’t to care too little. It’s to care too much… about the right things.

Instead of worrying what people will think, focus on making stuff the world needs. Write what needs to be written. Say what needs to be said. And make what needs to be made.

But please don’t apologize.

If you’re trying to be accepted, to be known, to do the kind of work that makes a difference, and nothing seems to work, try this: Stop caring so much.

When you do this, here’s what happens:

  • You become more comfortable in your own skin.
  • You do better work.
  • You get people, some people, to like you.

And most importantly, you realize this isn’t about people liking you at all. It’s about leaving a legacy, about taking risks and being brave and no longer questioning who you are and the work you were born to do.

So what do you say? What’s one thing you can stop caring so much about? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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