Forget Oprah, O Is For Organic

2010 July 8

The other day, I was trying to explain to a friend why a recent concert left me disappointed. The crowd was great (save for the tall girls standing directly in front me of me – the pains of being a short live music fan, I suppose), the performer in question actually sounded better live than recorded, I got to hear the song I was most looking forward to and yet… The best I could come up with was that the whole show seemed rote. She-who-shall-not-be-named seemed to be reading from a script, banter that had been delivered a thousand times before, an insistence on micro-managing the audience’s participation, a little too much preening over a carefully-cultivated “quirky” image. It all added up to a manufactured whole that left me cold. There was nothing organic about.

Photo by kumasawa

Ah yes, the O word. I’m organic all the way (well, not when it comes to produce, but still). I find something elegant, something literary, downright romantic (small r) about connections and opportunities emerging from serendipity and I’m reluctant to let go of the notion that your words and actions should speak for themselves, should reveal your skills and the content of your character and should be the grounds on which people evaluate you and your potential as a friend/employee/partner/human being vs. your ability to leverage, promote, monetize, and god forbid, brand yourself and your talents. I know, how terribly quaint of me. I’m sure this is why I don’t have a book deal yet (and maybe why I’m single. Heh). To put it in baseball terms, while a sac bunt might get the job done, I’m always gonna be a (swing from the heels) home run kinda girl.

Refusing to self-shill or to treat success as the product of five easy steps you learned from a book, webinar or from some dude who spoke at your convocation doesn’t mean that you don’t have to grind things out or hustle. It simply means that you hustle after and capitalize upon those opportunities and openings that have genuine appeal to you (the wanna over the shoulda) and you do so in a manner that feels natural (or organic if you prefer) to you. You stop  thinking in terms of adding value, connecting with, meaningfully engaging, etc. You start thinking, feeling and acting like a $#@%^ person and not a programmed successbot, ya dig?

It also means that you ditch the damn metrics.  Twitter followers, page views, LinkedIn connections, how many business cards you gave out this week, whatever arbitrary measure of getting ‘er done that you’ve been using as proof that you’re already on step six of the eight steps needed to reach entrepreneurial rockstardom. Instead, why not spend time figuring out what your values are and whether or not it’s actually possible to enact them and measure the outcomes of these actions according to an 11-part system developed by an internet famous “expert” who charges $159 a pop for repackaged advice that you could have picked up by thumbing through Gilbreth’s Cheaper by the Dozen?

Keeping the faith in the organic isn’t always easy, especially when you see the strategists and systems-lovers seemingly reaping rewards for their ability to stick to the game plan and when you hear the same refrain from every quarter exhorting you to get on board with the way things are done now, while subtly inculcating the fear that if you aren’t reaching out, linking in and pouring the prescribed amount of time and effort into creating Brand You, that you can expect to be eaten alive by those who got the memo. But it’s not about them. It’s not even about the culture of success architecture. It’s about the fact that you have to live your life in your shoes and that you deserve more credit for knowing how to engage with the rest of humanity on terms that reflect who you are and who you want to be than to have to rely on a vacuous, buzz-laden script just because it makes you feel as if you’re checking all the right boxes. And if you won’t give yourself that much credit, I certainly will.

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Related GenMeh goodness:

Asserting Yourself: A Brief How-to
Don’t Let The Haters Get You Down: Rejection + the Audition Mentality
Entitled To An Audience: Your Life In Three Acts