Growing up, most of us had heroes. People we admired and wanted to emulate.
“Man, I want to be just like [somebody] when I grow up!”
Somebody could have been Aunt Susan or Superman. It didn’t really matter. We liked the cut of their jib and wanted the same cut for ours.
Well into adulthood, we still have heroes. They’re more likely to be composites of several people—”I want a job like Andy’s” and “I’d love a car like Mary Beth’s,” etc.—but we still aspire to things. Things we see other people do, existences other people occupy.
(You needn’t look any further than the jerseys worn by sports fans and the world of “Influencers” to see copious evidence of this.)
Upon seeing an embodiment of what they want to be, people take notice in a shot. People hungry for inspiration and a voice to which they can relate will congregate—quick.
As audience builders and purveyors of wisdom, how can we make use of this information?
It’s easy: take what you’re already doing and add a little stank. A bit of irreverent boldness.
If something is asinine, don’t say, “well, gee, that’s not how I’d do it...” Say it’s asinine.
If you see fraud, say fraud.
Speak up when others are being quiet (or, worse, saying the same thing everybody else is saying).
Push the envelope. You don’t need to shove the envelope to the ground and kick its teeth in. That’ll overshadow your message and make you look like you’re a troll seeking attention.
Instead, give the envelope a gentle-yet-firm nudge.
Do that a few times, and you’ll have begun transcending the bleating masses.
This works because most people wouldn’t dare do what you’re doing. Even stepping slightly over the line is demonstrating that you’re not afraid to do it.
And then you’re different and, to many people, you’re brave. You’re bold. Like they wish they could be.
Keep it up for a little while and you’ll find you have a bunch of people who like you and another bunch that doesn’t.
What you won’t be is forgettable.
So go say something a bit provocative. Say it where others will see it. You'll get some nays, but if there's any sense in what you're saying, the yays will be along for the ride as well.