Be the lone nut!

One of my friends at work came by my lovely and oh-so-inspiring grey cubicle the other day, gratefully distracting me from hellish project management software updates that had been weighing me down for the 5 hours previous to her arrival. And she said, “Oh Andrea, I saw this awesome TED talk today and I thought of you right away! The guy’s name is Derek Silver or something, and he talks about starting a movement.”

Knowing that Karen gets the spazziness of my brain – she experiences it first hand on a regular basis – I trust her instinct that I’d like it. Just as we find the video and I start to play it, she says “you’re the nut!”


“You’re the nut!” she repeats as she points to my screen at this shirtless, skinny dude who’s dancing unencumbered on some grassy hill with a bunch of people sitting around staring at him – some laughing awkwardly, some looking at him in disbelief trying not to make any eye contact with him, others not really paying attention. And clearly, he doesn’t give a shit what any of them are doing, thinking or saying. He’s in his own beautiful world, freely soaking up the sun, basking in the moment, letting his soul guide his body. (Not sure his soul is very coordinated though, based on the way he’s flailing his arms and body around, but whatever!)

As Karen and I are watching this dancing fool, Derek Sivers (not Silver) starts breaking down what’s happening in the video and showing how a movement begins, because it doesn’t take too long for a second guy to follow suit. The new guy is immediately embraced by the original guy – “as equals,” Sivers explains – and the two continue to flail freely, until eventually a couple more join in, followed by a few more – “the tipping point” – when suddenly it’s no longer strange to take part and everyone feels safe to add their own random rhythms…and the movement has begun.

“The lone nut gets all the credit <for the movement>,” Sivers says, “but it’s really the first follower who makes the movement happen. Without his courage to join in, there would be no movement.”

In just the three minutes and 10 seconds it took to watch the video, I’m totally lifted out of my project management hell and tuned in to life with new inspiration.

“The lone nut! I love it! Be the lone nut!” I say as I’m searching for a pen to write it down.

“That’s totally you. That’s totally how I see you!” Karen responds. She’s laughing at me now because I’m clearly so excited by the whole thing.

“You just gave me a new life mantra!” I say. She laughs some more, pleased she so effortlessly gave me such joy. And inside, I have to admit, I’m also feeling pretty pleased that she sees me as a lone nut because how fun is that?

Which leads me to think about how cool it would be if we all let our inner lone nut loose. Think about how amazing it would be if we could feel that free, unrestricted from fear of being judged; fear of being the odd one; fear of not fitting in. Think about the life energy we would exude; the ability we would have to truly live in the moment; how good we would be to each other as we embrace those around us as equals! Can you tell I’m pumped?

We so often hold back, trying not to stand out, and yet the ones we admire the most do the exact opposite. Why don’t we give ourselves the permission to let go? Because, like Marianne Williamson said, “it is our light, not our darkness that frightens us the most.”

So, my simple desire is to strive to be the lone nut, or continue to be the lone nut (since Karen thinks I already am one). Except I want to get rid of the ‘lone’ part. I don’t want to be a nut on my own. I want to be a nut with other nuts! And as I think about this more, this new simple desire is clearly driven by my original simple desire – my raison d’etre –  to be an instrument of light (see past blog post )…or actually, they are one in the same, just another way of saying it.

So, here’s my plea to the world – let your inner nuttiness and light out, and let’s “start a movement” together.  Who’s with me?

Reflections on friendship, possibility and change

Every once in a while we meet someone who shifts our world a little bit. Someone who sees us in a way not many others can. Someone who accepts us more willingly and openly than most. And when we are blessed to come across such a person, our load becomes lighter and we see new possibility in our lives to which we had previously been blind.

I’ve been blessed over the past couple of years or so to have had such a person in my life. A colleague who quickly became a friend because of her generous, warm spirit. On days that were dull and tedious, she brought light and purpose. On days that were stressful and heavy, she brought laughter and levity. On days that were joyous and fun, she delighted in the moment.

I am writing about her today, because as of yesterday, my friend is starting a new journey in her life in her well-deserved retirement. A new journey she’s not sure she is completely ready for, but one I know will see her fly in ways she never thought possible.

Starting a new phase in life can be terrifying – whether it’s retiring, becoming a new parent, starting a new career. The fear of the unknown is daunting, but it is precisely in these moments of great change when the greatest discovery of self takes place. It is precisely at the time when our carefully crafted foundations are rocked that we discover more deeply who we are, more clearly what we are capable of and can stand more firm in our new knowing.

Change is powerful because it forces us out of our comfortable selves where we tend to settle for less than who we are and shows us what could be. It breaks down the constrained definitions we have of life, and shines light in the dark corners we worked hard to conceal. But what is funny is that on the other end of a significant change, when we get past the initial denial, anger, and resistance, finally stop fighting and learn the lessons the change has taught us, what was once the unknown becomes familiar and we begin to settle again.

So instead of hiding from change and the unknown, let’s seek it out. Instead of fearing the uncomfortable, let’s embrace it. Instead of holding back from new possibility let’s boldly walk toward it.

I desire this for my friend as she walks this new path. I desire this for myself when I am faced with the unexpected, and I desire this for anyone who seeks to be more than they are right now.

As I read back these reflections, I recognize they are not so simple desires. I know I will not always be able to live up to what I hope for myself and for those around me. I can only continue to seek and try, and when I come up short – as I very often will – I can only hope that I will remember the gifts from my friend, the lessons she taught me, and the simple desires she inspired today.