At Least I Hope You Are, Hero!
, we talked about Abigail Adams and her letter to her son, John Quincy Adams.
As you may recall, she admonished the 12-year-old who would become the sixth U.S. President to LIVE WITH VIRTUE.
And, as we discussed, she wisely declared: “These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.”
As part of that +1, I mentioned the fact that I think she and her family would have been part of our Heroic movement—encouraging their kids to cultivate their virtue while doing the same on our Heroic app.
I also mentioned the fact that I think Benjamin Franklin would have either created something similar to our Heroic app to track HIS virtuous targets or joined the cause to help us win our current war between vice and virtue.
I typed “Benjamin Franklin” into my Mac’s search thingy to see if I could find a Big Idea from a PhilosophersNote on him and his commitment to virtue.
I hit the jackpot.
Not only did I find a Big Idea featuring Benjamin Franklin and his idiosyncratic awesomeness, I ALSO found a reference to John Adams in the SAME Big Idea.
Franklin and Adams showed up in an Idea about helping us embrace our inner weirdos.
Alan Cohen tells us: “Being a misfit is not a defect. It may be your key to success. When I hear that a person is well adjusted, I ask, ‘Well adjusted to what?’ Learning how to find your way around a mental institution does not make you sane. Real sanity rests in authenticity. ...
Maybe you’re not so weird after all. Maybe your weirdness is your greatest asset. Maybe what you thought was wrong with you is what’s right with you. Just because you are out of the mainstream doesn’t disqualify you from vast achievement. You are in your own stream. World change agents do not apologize for their eccentricities or try to hide them. Idiosyncrasies come with the package. So just get on with your creations and make your contribution regardless of any oddness your personality has picked up along the way. Don’t wait until you are normal before you claim greatness. Normality and genius are rare bedfellows. As Walt Whitman proudly proclaimed, ‘Not a particle or an inch of me is vile . . . I celebrate myself.’”
That’s from a chapter in which we learn about some of history’s most awesome weirdos.
Get this: Did you know that Benjamin Franklin started each day with an “air bath,” standing naked outside for 30 minutes? Yep.
And, that fellow American hero John Quincy Adams swam nude in the Potomac river at 5 A.M. every morning, even in freezing weather. ( for the win! would approve!)
Then we have Nikola Tesla and Steve Jobs with their whole array of idiosyncratic behaviors (and genius inventions).
Oh! And, let’s not forget about Albert Einstein.
Did you know that he didn’t even speak until he was three and, as an adult, would stop his car, pluck a grasshopper and EAT IT. Yep. That’s normal.
Then we have YOU.
How’s YOUR weirdness?
Alan tells us:
So much of that passage is so eminently quotable.
There’s this: “Learning to find your way around a mental institution does not make you sane.” (Hah!)
Plus, this is worth a quick repeat: “Normality and genius are rare bedfellows.”
Then we have the whole “Well adjusted to WHAT?” conversation which—as you might be able to guess by this stage—reminds me of Krishnamurti’s wisdom that being well-adjusted to a PROFOUNDLY SICK society is no measure of health.
In a world where “normal” is so astonishingly sub-optimal (from a mental, physical and emotional health standpoint), why, my dear friend, should we aspire for “normalcy?”
Much better to lean into our weirdness and entertain the possibility that, perhaps,
Here’s to echoing Whitman’s proclamation as we celebrate every particle and inch of ourselves.
btw: Whitman also told us that “In the faces of men and women, I see God.”
You know what I see and what we encourage our Coaches to see in the faces of men and women?
Yes: I’m looking at YOU, Hero!!!