Awkward Moments Experiment

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
Brian Tracy

I’ve decided to create this to help me take more risks because my final year of college is looming.

I’ll create situations everyday for 30 days where two things happen:
1. I’m feeling extremely awkward.
2. It benefits the other person or group.

I’m tired of avoiding “perceived danger.” I have to let the training wheels go. I’m down to one year, so the pressure is on.

It’s a distant cousin of Rejection Therapy.
The major difference is that I don’t have to ask for anything.

Some examples:
1. Giving hi-fives to random people.
2. Going to a party, even if I don’t talk much. (I tend to avoid them, so that’s awkward.)
3. Wearing my shirt backwards the whole day.

The starting date is:
Sept 19.

Who’s with me?

In the comments below:
-Give me some ideas (reminder: It’s a University Campus)
-Tell me if you want to participate in this too or wish me luck.
-Anything else that’s in your awesome mind.

You Need to Know About the Mirror

“Nobody really wants to know about you, they just want to know what about you they can relate to themselves.”

All mirrors reflect an image back to you that enables an identical or modified version of what the mirror sees. If you hold a cat up to the mirror, it’ll always show a cat. This mirror image allows everyone to see themselves.

Imagine fixing your hair or putting on makeup without the help of a mirror. It would be nearly impossible to visualize our own image without its help.

The human mirror

Now imagine this mirror captures your ideas, thoughts, passions, and values. This is the human mirror.

People want to relate to other people that share similar reflections. This creates rapport and a sense of validation within two individuals or many in a group. These reflections help create bonds that may last many years or in a single moment.

The only thing that the mirror demands is that you project an image it can reflect back.

If you enjoy a healthy conversation about Skyrim, then you must understand its vast winter world to really appreciate the image. If you don’t then you either allow yourself to learn new knowledge to project this mirror or you don’t reflect anything back.

You can use that metaphor for any interest.

It can be risky to try and mirror everything because there is only so much everyone can know about each individual interest. However a basic knowledge about most topics can allow the other person to reflect a more sophisticated and detailed explanation about their mastered interest.

The best example came a few months ago when I was talking about the idea of attachment and how that is a great cause of many frustrations. The other person was going through a moment where individuality mattered more and therefore attachment conflicted with it. So I shared my own thoughts about attachment and how limiting it can become when someone gets overly attached to another. The other person agreed profusely and had that look of passion which confirmed that individuality mattered more.

The mirror image had been completed. Taking an idea and reflecting it back in similar thoughts creates connections.

If I started talking about the stock market and the other person had no image of that idea then the mirror fails. They cannot reflect the image because it doesn’t exist in that particular person’s thoughts. If they’re close enough or curious enough they will be open to learning about it but that isn’t always the case.

Usually when I start sharing ideas that the other person cannot relate to that is when the conversation goes stale and the rapport starts breaking down. The mirror starts fading away because the image doesn’t appear in the other person.

It is important to keep reflecting things within that particular person’s mirror or understand how open they are to new perspectives.

It is why I try my best to understand as many interests and concepts in order to see their mirrors.

It’s a chance worth taking. Everyone is made of the same stardust after all.

The Crossroads

March 2012

The bright grey gloom around me felt overwhelming in its juxtaposition. The notorious San Francisco fog was hovering and lingering for this day. Many tourists, locals, and waves of people were filtering around the Ferry Building looking at all of the independent shops within its components. I waited around until Andrew Caldwell popped out of nowhere in this dizzying wave of colors, emotions, and movements.

——

We both seem to be playing a Where’s Waldo? game because it takes us a couple of minutes to find one another. It isn’t easy when neither one of us is wearing a striped red and white shirt.

We enter the Peet’s coffee inside the Ferry Building because coffee is a beautiful remedy.

Andrew laughs and tells me how ridiculous Americans are with their addiction to coffee. I laugh and tell him, “It’s one amazing addiction.” A kind gesture occurs where he pays for my coffee and I figure that’s just his vacation money budget.

Cheers mate!

Afterwards we end up hanging around the area where you have a grand view of the lesser known Bay Bridge. The one that connects San Francisco to Oakland. It is interesting when a couple of girls come by to ask Andrew to take their picture with Instagram. Who knew 6’5 and an Australian accent would help me figure out that this Instagram app would become a big hit.

He talks about figuring out what city he could build a potential startup in. He just so happened to find himself in San Francisco as his first international city in his trip that would end up spanning multiple months across four different continents and crazy adventures.

The rest of the interaction becomes a walking tour of the Mission District where we shared ideas and thoughts about our near futures. I talk to him about my blog being a means to gather my ideas on paper to figure out the next course of action. He speaks about his past experiences in the working world and his recent trip across Australia. He wants to see many cities around the world to try out the traveler lifestyle and figure out if he would want to reside in any of the cities he would travel to.

He also tells me about the blogging community and the bloggers that he wants to meet. I agree with him about the type of bloggers that seem authentic. At this point in the thick, atmospheric fog he uses his cynical wit to help me understand the motivations behind people and what determines success. It all seems a bit vague but delivery is just as important as authenticity.

This would be a crossroads for my personal blog because this interaction would slowly change my mission towards meeting people. This would be a crossroads for him as he would figure out his own conclusions about traveling through the months.

A small interaction at two people’s crossroads can change things for the better, even if it is absolutely tiny. At the very least it helps me write around 500 interesting, vivid words and at best I find moments to discover.

Right before the interaction ends and the BART train hums and echoes through the underground station, Andrew tells me that “You’re beyond your years.” I thank him as he disappears through the closing doors of the train.

[Note: You can find Andrew Caldwell at his homepage and Twitter.]

Paying It Forward

The ideas and vision behind the blog initially started out as a way to overcome personal setbacks. However, looking back on it now the vision to meet 1000 people started out with the first person on my past approaches list.

Jason Shen was one of the original participants in Rejection Therapy. I was intrigued by the San Francisco Chronicle article telling his story about how he passed out Halloween candy to strangers. I e-mailed him and a few months later ended up meeting him in person.

May 2011

We decided to meet for lunch at a diner in San Francisco. It was a awhile back so I don’t recall the name of the place.

All I remember was the foggy atmosphere and the nerves of my 2011 self. We met outside the diner and walked into a cozy setting full of coffee-inducing warmth. Jason said “Two” and the waitress quickly gave us the table closest to the door.

He went on to talk about his plans for an interesting startup that would work in tune with how people went to and from Burning Man. He also spoke about his gymnastic experiences, the reward of winning, and the amazing feeling of camaraderie between his teammates and himself. Then he asked me about my plans at the time.

“What are you studying and what do you plan to do?”

I told about Psychology and how I wanted to use that creatively. I still wasn’t sure where to go. He automatically offered me his best connections for opportunities relating to Psychology. He was already optimizing what he could do to best help me.

Ask yourself what you can do for the person sitting across the table.

Running was another big topic discussed and aided me in rekindling my passion for running. It also built momentum for him towards running as he would end up running many events in 2012.

Ask yourself what topics can capture interest in the person sitting across the table.

After finishing our meal I was about to take my card out but Jason was adamant in paying for the whole bill. He said to me, “I know how it was in college. Just pass this forward.”

I never really forgot that day because it helped me understand to pass forward good energy to everybody that I have met and will meet.

I asked myself what I could do to pay it forward that day. I gave my leftovers to a hungry homeless person.

I asked myself what I could do to pay it forward that month. I concentrated on getting back to running.

I asked myself what I could do to pay it forward that year. I concentrated on learning how to flirt, accepting that we’re all stardust, and continuing to meet amazing people.

Jason’s small act of kindness created inspiration to be able to be in the position to pay it forward too. I’m continuing on that path.

[You can find more about Jason Shen at his blog.]

Get to the Cake Even If the Frosting is Good

For all of the readers out there who enjoy a slice of cake, I want you to imagine your favorite flavor of cake. Is it strawberry? Is it chocolate? Is it something else?

Good.

Now for the sake of this exercise, everyone gets their delicious frosting on top of this cake. You get to imagine what type of frosting you want on your cake too.

Good.

Here’s the interesting part: I am pretty sure almost all of you would say that frosting [albeit unhealthy] is almost always tasty.

Ever saw the visual of something or somebody and thought how attractive or lovely that object or person was? This is like the frosting, it is almost always tasty or pleasing to our senses.

Frosting would be a metaphorical physical look of somebody or something. This is because just like on the cake, the frosting is on top of the cake and is the only thing you can see before you cut the cake.

Now, when it comes to cake, I am pretty sure that is good in the majority of cases as well. However, what happens when the cake is too dry and tastes bad? The frosting can only mask the taste of the cake so much.

A dry, bland, or bad cake isn’t to our liking. This would symbolize someone who doesn’t match with us, maybe incompatible, just like how we’re currently incompatible with subpar cakes.

Even if the frosting [or person's appearance or object's appearance] is good, can it really mask a mediocre cake [or person's inner qualities like charm, humor, and fun]?

Don’t let the illusion of the frosting mask a mediocre cake. Make sure that you have a nice delicious cake in front of you, frosting optional. That’s how you maintain quality people, things, and cake in your life.

On Momentum

[Thank you for MLK for all that he did. Monday was a holiday that celebrated him in the United States, so I decided to write for Tuesday this week.]

After my success with directness, I used momentum to build it into success. I was fully confident in myself during these couple of days so I truly believed goodness would come out of it.

April 6th 2012, 1:00PM.

I saw an attractive girl on the bus with me right before I was headed to the grocery. I hopped off the bus when I was going to the grocery store and it so happened that she was going there as well. After a few minutes shopping around, I caught her on the way out walking towards my apartment complex. I told her, “Hey. It seems you’ve been going with me around on the bus and to the grocery.” I delivered that in the most sarcastic and light-hearted tone as possible.

She laughed a lot and seemed really interested at this point. We talked a bit about our majors and interests before she headed to another part of the apartment complex. I told her she was really fun to talk to so I’d like to continue it some other time. She agreed and handed me her phone to put my number in. When you’re feeling the magic, let the magic happen. This proved to me that I made a positive impact in her day by making it fun.

April 6th 2012, 4:30PM.

I just finished one of my classes and I was heading home towards the bus. In the corner of my eye, I see another extremely attractive girl that raises my vitals. I trust myself to be extremely honest with her. I say “Hi” and smile. She smiles back. Everything felt honest so I said everything how it was.

“Rather than regretting letting the opportunity to talk to you go by, I decided to take this one moment that I may run into you and talk to you.” She blushed heavily and lit up. We talked for five minutes about multiculturalism in California through stories and her Spanish major. It seemed like both of us enjoyed the interaction so I asked her to hang out again and she agreed.

The momentum helped me because I trusted myself and had the courage to talk to whom I wanted to talk to.

Momentum takes discipline because you can’t be content with one positive interaction. You have to keep going to show different people what you’re offering. In my case, I’m offering fun and a good conversation in the middle of the day to defy the boredom of routine. If this went well, I wanted to hang out again. In these two cases, it happened that way. In other cases, I talked with whomever, male, female, two or three people, and let the conversation flow for however long it was without any need for a certain outcome to happen.

[Disclosure: Many of my latest posts describe my interactions with women in March and April of 2012 because it was something I did to respect myself and to understand that all people are polite enough to talk to, so it was up to me to personally see how it went. I want to share this with everyone to show how to talk to anybody you want to respectfully and honestly.]