Have we forgotten how to be cool? And no, I’m not talking about being able to wear a beard, an ear stud and a mandigan all at the same time without appearing to be the unsuspecting victim of some sort of haute couture drive-by shooting.
I’m talking about the ability to hide razor-sharp elbows behind a winning smile and effortless charm and appear sufficiently interested to be engaging, yet aloof enough to not be threatening.
Think Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Cooler King cool.
The reason I’m banging on about this comes hot on the heels of a conversation with a good friend of mine after we’d both been on the receiving end of a particularly brutal hard-sell.
As we recovered from the ordeal, he said: “People have forgotten how to be cool’. And it got me thinking.
Although he and I were discussing business, the abandonment of cool is evident in all aspects of life; it’s that distinct whiff of Eau-de-Desperation which invariably has the opposite effect to its intention. It’s also known as The Law Of Reversed Effect.
If we look around we see evidence that we have become a nation striving intensely for success, recognition and validation in every area of our lives all of the time. Baring buffed up body-parts on Instagram de rigeur on an almost daily basis.
How did this creep in? More to the point, how did it come to be considered ‘cool’?
There is, of course, nothing wrong – and indeed many things good – with wanting to do our best. But when that healthy desire to achieve tiptoes into the murkier territory of ‘convincing’ mode, it gets out of whack.
We become so obsessed with what we’re chasing that we no longer have the room (or perhaps the perspective) to listen to the natural ebb and flow of checks and balances that help us to determine if whether what we’re chasing is actually right for us.
The hard sell is still employed in business but I think one of the problems with it is that it involves trying to make a sale without considering what the individual wants or needs.
They can feel pressured to join, without having their concerns addressed. And of course inherent in the sharp-elbowed sale is the danger that if they don’t buy right then, their experience has been so negative that it’s a near certainty they won’t come back. Worse still, they’re also highly unlikely to refer either.
And just as it’s true in business, so it’s also true relationships. Seriously, when was the last time you felt yourself drawn to someone wearing Eau de Desperation? Exactly. This is where the hard sell is a sure-fire self-esteem corrosive.
The romantic hard-sell, whether in the context of an existing relationship or one we’re trying to get off the ground, puts us firmly in the love danger zone.
Nonetheless I’ve worked with people who have wasted months and even years because they acted as though the object of their desire was the last man or woman on earth and it was their personal ‘mission’ to win them over without considering what the other person wanted or needed.
When it comes to love, I truly believe in the maxim If it doesn’t flow, let it go …
Yet we continually ‘kick the can’ in terms of our happiness. We convince ourselves we’ll be happy when we secure the partner, buy the new car, close the deal, get 30,000 instagram followers. We’ve become a nation of ‘chasers’ and forgotten the beauty and power in the inherent simplicity of letting go and being cool.
Yes, we should work hard. But we also need to know the difference between ‘giving up’ and knowing when you have had ‘enough’. We need to be able recognise that sometimes, and in spite of our best efforts, it’s time to just let it go and take stock.
But we chase and we chase and we chase – never stopping to wonder whether the problem might actually be the intensive chasing itself. We chase the goal and when we reach it, we upgrade the chase and go for the next level. Trying can get really trying and the whole thing gets rather … well, exhausting!
And the irony is that things will never be perfect. But they can be great. There’s a difference between knowing your limits and accepting second best – but moving towards your dreams and goals in a steady and focused way allows you to identify and address what’s unsatisfactory in your life.
Emotional self-flagellation over what you’re not is a sure-fire way of keeping you stuck where you don’t want to be.
Most things in life benefit from being seen as ‘long game’. Be easy with yourself and believe that what’s for you won’t go by you. Life isn’t a series of one-shot deals – there are always more opportunities.
And herein lies the paradox: the more relaxed and cool you are with who and where you are right now, the more the things you do want begin to flow towards you.
So the next time you find yourself wanting something badly, remember that Eau de Desperation has never been the fragrance of success. Self-acceptance and the personification of happiness will always be the smells that sell.