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Tips On How To Make Yourself More Interesting: Waking Up The Complacent Energy

August 26, 2011

Years ago as a young investment broker, I realized that I had built myself a box and climbed in. My work-life was stale. But it was stale not because the stock market had suddenly lost its intrinsic excitement, and opportunities for profit had disappeared. Quite the contrary, the market was (looking back) never so thrilling and never so full of opportunity! That was many thousands of points ago. I was the problem. So I devised a solution. My solution involved attempting to expose myself to the unseen and, by doing so, (9) wake up the complacent energy within me in an effort to revitalize my work-life. In other words, to experience the world in a different way and see what might be detected about my existence that I had perhaps been missing and, therefore, failing to learn from. We lived just a block off a main artery leading downtown and every morning the city bus came along at precisely 7 o’clock. Now, I had never taken a bus to school or work in my life. In those days—and I suspect the same is true today—“professional” people simply didn’t ride the bus to work in my city. If you did, people would certainly view you as somewhat eccentric—not just your professional friends but the usual bus riders who daily took the bus would also look suspiciously at you! So, by riding the bus to work, I was sure to change out the lens through which the world viewed me while forcing myself to learn something about the world of others.

At first, my lawyer buddies and stock-broker associates would see me at the bus stop and wave awkwardly. Some offered me a ride but I politely declined. I would always say something like, “thanks, but I’m doing transportation research,” or something equally “out there.” But, hey, (10) you can’t be too concerned about what others think while you are trying to become more interesting as long as you’re not breaking the law, hurting others or deliberately trying to look like a fool. And I was not deliberately trying to look foolish! I was, in fact, on a mission—to learn from a change in scenery and routine. I’ll never forget stepping from the bus one morning in front of one of the prominent banks in the business district. Just as I stepped to the curb, a fellow broker with my firm, a rather snobbish person, emerged from the bank and immediately saw me stepping away from the bus. Now this person was very smart, at least, there was a perception that he was. He walked directly up to me, looked me up and down curiously and asked haltingly, “did you just get off that bus?” (His BMW was parked nearby.) “Yeah,” I answered nonchalantly. He cocked his head as if something really profound (or perplexing) was coming to his mind, then turned and walked back into the bank without saying a word. As I watched him go, I realized that I had just become a different person in his view—I had become someone who was willing to take a risk, someone who was unafraid to break the rules or shakeup the status quo, someone who was a little more interesting than he at first assumed, perhaps someone to be reckoned with, someone to watch, to get to know better, maybe. I’ll always wonder what he was thinking that day. But that was my goal: to start everyone thinking—in a constructive way, of course.

I rode that bus for at least a year. It took me forty-five minutes to go the distance that normally took fifteen. But I saw my city along the way. I saw the hardship of those little ladies who rode the bus out of lack of other transportation. I saw dilapidated homes, mansions and marvelous state buildings really for the first time as I peered from the window and contemplated the world in slow motion. I saw problems, opportunities, history and the future. The bus rides stretched me and shaped my thinking about my work, my role in life, and what really mattered. They laid the foundation for where I am today because they left me unsettled and unwilling to let life happen to me rather than taking life and making it mine. My little girl would greet me at day’s end by running toward me as I walked up the street from the bus stop. In retrospect, those were the glory years of my life; all because I was willing to rock my own world with change that opened my eyes to the lives of others unlike me, to love things unseen that I had previously passed by quickly or not at all. I learned so much by simply changing a single pattern of my life and I truly believe others saw me as more interesting, if not mysterious, for my effort. What was basically a dreary bus ride to others became a mode of reflection and growth for me. I still think of those days and continue to be affected in positive ways. (11) You won’t be affected in positive ways by experiences you never have.

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  1. Dan Sherling permalink

    Jeff, I thoroughly enjoyed this post! You hit dead center by making the point of how changing our time-worn perceptions can many times limit our personal growth and life experiences. I’ve ridden the bus from time to time and I can vividly remember the people, the way they looked at me, and the friendly greetings and conversations the regular users of the metro and I would share. By riding the bus I was immediately accepted as okay in their eyes, despite my business attire. As they talked about their lives and families I saw the world through their eyes. I arrived at work with a whole new appreciation for the advantages and opportunities I enjoy. It also was a positive experience for me, also. Truly, “You won’t be affected in positive ways by experiences you never have”.

    • Jeff Barganier permalink

      Thanks, Dan. I need to write about my scuba-diving experience. Now that’s getting out of your box!

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