How to be Intense

Find something that you want to teach everyone

“I think you’ll do just fine,” he said.

I didn’t think so.

Let it burn.

I’m a little socially awkward. I don’t do well in crowds.

I really prefer a solo coffee date and a smooth jazz playlist to a big party. I can’t stand more than a few people for more than a short while. It tires me.

I usually don’t talk much.

I’m a disaster at sustaining small talk. Last week, an acquaintance introduced me to someone he thought I should know. It would open up a great business opportunity for me. I was so bad at small-talk, I almost blew it.

Being the introvert that I am, you can imagine that the idea of giving a talk would make me shiver.

I remember receiving the email with the subject “We’re looking for speakers”. It was for a tech meetup I’d been attending for the past year.

I read through the email, and compulsively, leaving no time to let doubt materialise, I replied.

“I want to give a talk on…”

I think that was a little crazy.

But the part of the internet that isn’t a waste of time told me that when something scares you, you need to go after it.

So I was telling this to a friend of mine, as I was preparing for the talk. I told him I was a little scared, which was a lie, because I was a lot scared.

“I think you’ll do just fine,” he said. “You’re usually silent and awkward, but there’s a way you get charged up when you’re talking about these tech things”.

There’s a version of me that oozes energy. Some people know it. He knew it.

There are some things that I get really excited about and can’t stop talking about them. I can go on and on because they mean something to me.

I love building software, I love building businesses and I love inspiring people to do great things.

Ask me about the latest movies and music and I’ll probably give a short polite answer. Ask me about any of the things above and my aura and demeanor will change. You’ll have flipped a switch, and it can be very intense.

I usually know I’ve hit the spot when the other person’s eyes light up too. I know the face people make when I’ve inspired something in them. I know how people look at me when I have provoked thought and emotion.

I only get that look from people when I speak with passion and intensity about the things I give a damn about.

And that’s what you need to do. Give a damn about something. Better put, find something that you give a damn about.

It’s not “find your purpose”, it’s more like “find a purpose”. It’s not “find your passion”, it’s “find something that you’re passionate about”.

We are human. We like fish and we like chicken. They are not mutually exclusive. If you really like fish, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be passionate about chicken.

You can be passionate about many things. And those things will change as you grow, and that’s fine too. What you always have to have around is something that’s meaningful to you.

Learn it. Spend time on it. Put effort into it. Know it. Believe in it.

A deep understanding about something that you care about cultivates a deep desire to teach it to other people.

And that’s where intensity comes from: that deep desire to make everyone understand this thing as well as you do.

That’s why I think that everyone should start a blog.

It’s not because everyone should be a blogger or a writer. It’s to help you grow that desire to tell everyone about something you care about. It helps you figure out what’s meaningful to you. It helps you nurture your intensity.

I think an interesting way to learn about someone would be to ask them:

If you started a blog today, what would it be about?

Maybe that’s a question you should be asking yourself?

My talk went great, by the way.

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