It’s a Tuesday night, and I’m at the bowling alley with a group of guys from a tech company that I deal with. I haven’t bowled for a while and secretly plan to focus on the conversation rather than my lackluster bowling performance.
Before I start, the man that invited me gives me some bowling tips. He has real swag and looks like he’s going to be awesome at bowling. He’s got the walk, the way of holding the ball, and he’s psyching me out with the way he stares.
After the first game where I hit a gutter ball, he gives me a tip and says that I need to the hold the ball with different fingers. I figure I have nothing to lose and take his advice. Then, for the next six odd games, I hit mostly gutter balls.
The decision from this point onwards is easy; it’s time to use my own swag and do what feels right. I change the ball to a slightly heavier one and go back to my old grip. Even though I am going against the rules of the sport, I bowl three strikes in a row and another shot where all the balls except one fall over.
Had I have kept trying to follow my colleagues swag and not embraced my own, I would have failed miserably. As it turns out, I nearly won even with all the gutter balls at the start. Now I’m described as being some bowling genius, and they think I have some secret skill.
My secret skill is my swag and having a go – nothing more. Here are the 4 ways to embrace your own swag:
1. Trust your instincts
Everyone has an opinion about how you should do a particular task; that doesn’t mean you should listen. Your instincts come from your animal ancestors from thousands of years ago, and you have them for a reason. Deep down, you know when you should listen to someone and when you should embrace your swag.
Learning to trust your decision-making ability based on feelings is a hard thing to master. Feeling your way through life without utilising logic goes against what we are taught in school and college. Every problem is supposed to have an answer, isn’t it?
Wrong. Predicting your future is never going to happen. There are a ton of studies that show how your gut instinct is worth acknowledging and is generally right for you. When something feels right, like the way you bowl, embrace it and love that you have your own style.
2. Your swag is you
I’m not sure why, but we humans seem always to want to be everyone else but ourselves. What’s so horrible about the way we are?
“There’s nothing wrong with you and the things that make you different are where the coolness lies”
Part of the challenge is that we think we have to follow a path that has previously been traveled. We don’t. The path we choose in life comes down to what is right for us individually. There are millions of ways to do almost anything so don’t feel like you have to do it like everyone before you.
There are times when it’s good to mirror other people’s success and then there are times to just make up the story as you go along. I prefer to make my own future and then change the world through what I believe that can be somewhat extreme.
Whether it’s a sport like bowling or the way you make money, do it using your own swag. Love your swag and how out of control it can be at times. Swag it out and be proud of who you are right now, and who you’re becoming thanks to all of the growth and personal development you are engaging in.
3. Know it’s okay to look silly
How you look might seem undesirable, but nine times out of ten, no one even notices. My bowling style probably looked stupid to most. It didn’t have the beautiful lines and the fancy footwork. The ball would hit the wooden floor with a sudden thump each time.
To make matters more challenging, all the people present were consuming a fair amount of beer. Strange old me went to the bar and ordered a bottle of water. Did I care if people thought that was weird? No. In fact, people became intrigued and started asking questions.
After these mini-conversations some of the guys looked at their beer with a different view. While they didn’t say it, they wondered what benefit they were getting and if there was a different perspective that might change their future success.
Everyone that was present that night is not going to forget my bowling swag and water drinking antics. In a business context, this makes me stand out from my competitors. Remember, people do life with people and people also do business with people.
“Having the same style as everyone else makes you forgettable and unsuccessful in the long run”
Your swag is cool because “cool” nowadays is about not being afraid to look silly and forgetting about how people might judge you. Every unknown sport is weird until someone achieves success at it and then it becomes mainstream and popular like kite surfing.
4. Not having an experience is worse
I could have just said I can’t bowl so I won’t go and hang out with these tech guys. I won’t embrace building new relationships and expanding my horizons. It would have been very easy on that rainy, windy, cold Melbourne day to curl up in bed with my favorite lemongrass and ginger tea, and consume endless social media content.
I could have admitted I was no good from day one and never stepped out of my comfort zone. The problem with the way of thinking I have just outlined (that was very tempting by the way) is that I would have missed out on life.
Maybe I would have met my future business partner at the bowling alley. Maybe I would have got a new idea for a business and gone on to be a high achieving entrepreneur of a tech startup because of a chance meeting that happened on this day.
You just never know what you are missing out on by being afraid of your swag and not using it to your advantage. By having very few experiences, you are doing more damage than using grit and pushing through any potential embarrassment or struggle. It’s only a struggle if you think it is.