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Professional Troublemaker

The Fear-Fighter Manual

By Luvvie Ajayi Jones
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Professional Troublemaker (2021) is a guide to overcoming the fear that stops us from being our best selves and living our truest values. From friendships to honesty and responsibility to kindness, the author explores the touchstones of a meaningful life – boldly urging us to speak up for what we really deserve.

Key idea 1 of 7

Knowing the real you makes it easier to be the real you.

We all live with a certain amount of fear. Not just about the future of the world, looming deadlines, and diminishing finances – but we also stress about ourselves.

We worry we’re not good enough, or that we’re somehow defective. As a result, we hold back and hide our true selves. This fear of exposure is understandable, though. Society can be extremely harsh. In such an unforgiving world, being ourselves can feel pretty risky.

But that’s only one perspective. What if this concealed self we’ve been minimizing was an asset? What if getting in touch with our real selves actually protected us?

The key message here is: Knowing the real you makes it easier to be the real you.

Although we may fear showing the world our true selves, that authentic identity can be a profoundly grounding and stabilizing force.

You see, one of the main reasons people are afraid to disrupt the status quo is because we fear instability – we worry that taking risks will eventually knock us off our proverbial perches for good.

In reality, a strong sense of self would actually make you feel stronger and more resilient against risk.

Instead of feeling like you’re standing precariously on the edge of a cliff, you’d feel grounded in an everlasting and secure foundation – something that can never be toppled. You’re grounded in yourself.

Now, this doesn't give you carte blanche to be stubborn or dogmatic. It also doesn't mean you can't change, learn or grow. It just means that you need to develop a strong sense of identity and assert your right to exist as you are. 

To help, let’s take inspiration from the Yorùbá people of West Africa and their tradition of oríkì. An oríkì is a poem of personal praise. Everyone’s oríkì is unique and highlights their identity within the community. Think of it like the introductions given in Game of Thrones: “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen. First of Her Name. The Unburnt. Queen of the Andals and the First Men. Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. Breaker of Chains. Mother of Dragons.”

Try writing your own “personal hype” mantra. Abandon all humility and take the credit you deserve. Make it sound as badass as possible. Something like, “Alex Louise of the House Carter. First of Her Name. Dame of Detroit. Purveyor of Plants. Mother of Masterminds.”

And remember to keep your oríkì somewhere safe and easy to reference. It’ll affirm your sense of identity at times when you need it most. 

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