Don't Box Me In!
The idea that, once I saw it, I started to see it everywhere
Ever notice that when you rent or buy a new car, you start to see that car everywhere?
This is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, and normal people call it "frequency illusion," but I call it the plaid pants effect. If you buy plaid pants, you start to see them everywhere. It's like blinders drop away, and you start to see patterns in everything.
I am having some MAJOR plaid pants effect about this one idea: letting the real you be free. The complete you. The full picture of you.
And when I say "you," I mean, of course, "me."
I just wrapped up this course called Write of Passage -- a five-week journey of writing training, practice, feedback and community with 400 people from around the world. To call it a "course" isn't accurate. It's like calling a 3-star Michelin restaurant a "place to grub." Course is a woefully inferior descriptor. This was a purposefully designed journey. A foundation for a life of abundant opportunity. An examined, interesting, fulfilling life.
And while I grew and learned and benefitted from the relationships I built, I ask myself "what do I want to do with my writing?"
And the only words that pop into my head are DON'T BOX ME IN BRO.
In this light, all my accolades are transformed into poisonous darts:
I founded and grew and sold a 150-person agency. Don't box me in!
I've angel invested in 100 startups. Don't box me in!
I did improv and standup and sold a comedy script. Don't box me in!
I don't want to be the 1,000th person to say "we contain multitudes" today on LinkedIn, but here's where I'm at:
In the last two months - during which I've written and posted 35 pieces on LinkedIn, Twitter and Substack, I've been able to do multiple things I love:
Counseled three founders about their private struggles amid great success
Uncovered incredible creative breakthroughs in my brand consulting work
Been invited to speak on a friend's podcast
Been invited to be an advisor to two startups
Wrote enough jokes and stories to fill 10 minutes of stand-up time
Wrote a treatment for a sci-fi screenplay
Reconnected with 30 old friends, colleagues and coworkers
And all of that is me. Truly me.
Not just one thing.
And not just the things that I think others want from me. Once I admitted that I boxed MYSELF in during the past decade of my career, I started to see it everywhere, and most importantly, the PLAID PANTS EFFECT: I see people discussing emotional reasons behind boxing themselves in.
I've taken solace in the words of a few writers:
And friends, it took well over a year to see every time I get triggered as an opportunity to examine the 1000 ways I succumbed to my story of unworthiness. It took immense courage to face the fact that I created a life of insane ambition, social introversion, and delicate perfectionism.
When I joined the workforce, I also became the youngest, least experienced person in the room, intensifying this shadow in new ways. As a defense mechanism, I learned to become Serious, draining my work self of all my playful and creative energy to ensure I wouldn’t be found out. If I took myself and the work seriously, surely they wouldn’t find out I didn’t belong.
Time to lay it out there. I've been more than just a rapper in this game. I'm an investor, an entrepreneur, an innovator, and so much more... So, here's the deal: I'm not just an artist; I'm a force to be reckoned with. And I ain't done yet.
I'm in good company. We're in good company.
I don't know how I'll define my writing here. That may come in time. Maybe not.
Maybe my unique combination of humor, empathy, ambition, and logic will be interesting and helpful to someone.
Probably not for everyone. But hopefully you.
And for you, I’ll keep showing up. Just don’t box me in.