How To Be An Interesting Person
Paradoxically, if we desire to be successful and interesting to others, then we must give it up.
Come on, admit it. You want and need their attention. After all, if you don’t get it, you don’t sell, and if you don’t sell, you don’t eat.
That’s how we think.
Whatever your work, be you employed or self-employed, creative or corporate, you’re supposed to create value for someone else first. You’ve got to put the hours in and show everyone involved that you are worthy of the few quid.
This is our belief.
So we work hard to impress. Someone else has the gold or at least has the key to where the gold is kept, and we’d better impress if we are to survive, let alone do well and prosper.
Sure, we all know people who do as little as possible — the disaffected ones — the one’s who have realised the system is fucked but don’t know how to do anything about it.
For the rest of us, a large portion of the adult working population, we sweat it out under the force of competition.
“We have very primitive emotions. It’s impossible not to be competitive. Spoils everything, though.” ― Ernest Hemingway
It may be paradoxical, but it has been my finding that to be interesting to others, we must not try to be interesting. Too many of us try too hard to impress bosses, potential partners, customers and anyone else we see as occupying positions of influence and advantage.
These are people we identify as those who can get us where we want to go. Our motivations are driven by what we can extract from the relationship in material gain or status rather than the enjoyment of the engagement.
In many respects, we operate outside our humanity, choosing to behave more like machines than human beings. We want to know how to be successful, wealthy and influential. We consume books about How to Win Friends & Influence People and attend conferences on how to beat the competition and get ahead in business.
These concepts are literally ingrained in our psyche. It is the dominant thrust of a western industrialised culture where there is a snake, a hack, or a charlatan waiting to pounce on our wallets at every corner.
It’s called marketing.
Ok, maybe I’m a little facetious here. Still, the fact remains obvious to anyone who cares to open their eyes — our entire survival-of-the-fittest model of western culture is designed to convince the unsuspecting public that they need things they don’t. Generations have been conditioned to sell and be sold — it’s normal.
As such, we have developed a transactional relationship with daily work, so much so that many of us hate it. Work has become a means to an end, and to reach that end, we are prepared to sacrifice ourselves and others.
Living this way, always projecting ourselves from where we are into some idealistic future, is exactly what limits our effectiveness and keeps us from the thing we’re chasing.
You and I have been wholly convinced that happiness is somewhere down the consumerist road. We don’t so much as question it.
“Knowing the art of influencing the imagination of the masses means knowing the art of its rule.” — Gustave Le Bon, Psychology of the masses
If we take a moment from our pursuit of external acknowledgement of our value, we might realise that those people we find interesting are, in fact, interested.
Most of the time, something has their undivided attention, and they are mostly unconcerned about what you think. They are not trying to coerce or manipulate anyone towards some ulterior end.
Rather, they are immersed in their work for its own sake. They become fascinating to us because they are fascinated by something. For the rest of us trying too hard to be special, we miss the point.
We think that to be successful, we’ve got to follow some system or other, and in that frame of mind, we become lost in the competitive world. We become fake plastic representations of something real.
Instead, we’ve got to become lost in daily work.
This is the paradox — we’ve got to go long, deep and alone into that thing that ignites our personal interest and forget about external perception. We have little option if we want to be happy because happiness is in the work itself and not in what we get from it.
There is no future where we will eventually find happiness; rather, happiness and success can only be available here and now.