COOL REQUIRES DISCIPLINE
Nobody said this would be easy, least of all me. Most people never fully achieve their cool potential because there is always something that could be improved upon. It’s very much like Golf in the way that no matter how hard you work at it, or how much success you have with it, you will never be perfect. It’s also like golf in the sense that a Golf swing has so many moving parts, and sometimes you can do a lot of things right, but one flaw can mess up your whole swing. In fact, almost everything I’ll say about cool in the next paragraph can relate to Golf as well, but it would be totally un-cool for me to continue on with these Golf analogies while your Cool Factor is hanging in the balance.
There will be people out there who are just cool without having any idea how they got there. It’s like any skill that you can be ‘a natural’ at. They just instinctively move toward the cool without even knowing that they’re doing it. Good for them! I would say that most people spend at least a bit of their life feeling unsure of themselves, and wondering how they could walk among the seemingly chosen few that were blessed with the cool gene. The first thing you need to know is that trying a new thing, getting a tattoo, or wearing a name brand shirt isn’t going to get you there. You need to walk cool and talk cool all day every day, but before you can even do that, you need to find out what cool is, and understand it. I’ll try to help you with that throughout, but at the end of the day, only you will know what cool is at your age, in your town, among your people, and most importantly in your heart.
Where should you start? Figure out what you think is cool. Most people instinctively would try to find out what other people think is cool, and start moving towards that ideal. This is the wrong approach. You can’t be someone else’s cool. It doesn’t work. You need to find your own cool. You can certainly get ideas from other people though. You just can’t let anyone know you’re getting ideas from them. Be a watcher, but don’t make it obvious that you’re watching. You need to have some Coolfluences, which are people who you perceive to have a good supply of all around cool. Find out why they’re cool in your eyes. What do they look like, smell like, talk like? How do they react to things? What do they believe in? What do they stand for? How do they treat people? What are they into? How do they dress? Ask yourself these questions. Come up with a hundred more questions. Then ask these same questions about yourself. Are there any similarities? Differences?
Now if you think I’m going to suggest that you start acting, dressing, talking like the above person on your way to being cool, you’ve got another thing coming. If you think someone at your school, office, gym or pet cemetery is cool, you can’t just copy their haircut and think that’s gonna cut it. It doesn’t work like that. That would be copying, or biting which is unoriginal, therefore uncool. Don’t ever try to be like someone. Be yourself. Just tweaked. Think like a Rock Star. Everybody that makes music has influences. It’s usually quite alright to pay homage to some of these artists, by allowing them to influence your sound. However, if you spend your whole music career trying to sound like a certain artist, then you can’t be a cool Rock Star, you can only be a Cover Band. I’m not suggesting Cover Bands can’t be cool. As long as they own it, and don’t try to act like Rock Stars, they’re alright in my book.
So allow yourself to be coolfluenced, but don’t be a biter. How do you do that? By diversifying your coolfluences!! It’s very likely that you find more than one person to be cool. There are probably dozens, if not hundreds of people who you find cool. So to diversify your coolfluences, you are taking an aggregate of possibly hundreds of cool people, and utilizing the relevant information from each of them to form a cool consensus. If you are borrowing cool ideas from 600 people, it’s very difficult for anybody to notice that you aren’t in fact coming up with all of these ideas on your own. If you have only 2 coolfluences, then you are likely acting exactly like them, and people will easily be able to tell where you got your style from, and that’s not a good look. By that rationale, why am I recommending that you borrow inspiration from anyone at all, when you could just use 100% original ideas of your own? Let’s be honest with ourselves, if you were 100% happy with your original ideas, you wouldn’t be reading this book right now. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Cool has long been established. Just look around you, and take the ideas that work for you, without letting anyone know you’re taking them.
So I’ve asked you to find 600 cool people and ask yourself 100 questions about why each of them are cool. Sound like a lot of work? Of course it is. Cool requires discipline. This process will take longer than a week. Like anything in life, you get out what you put in. Cool is no different, although you will find that it comes easier to some than others. It’s no different from school, really. The more you study, the better chance you have of getting good grades. The unfair reality is that some people will be able to get good grades without studying. Just like some people are inherently cool. If you aren’t inherently cool, but aspire to be, then you need to do the homework. In cool, like in school, don’t be hating the people who come by it easily. Hating in general is detrimental to your cause. Jealousy is negative a million points on the Cool Factor scale.
When you’ve found your 600 cool people and asked yourself 100 questions about what makes them cool, it probably makes sense to write down the answers (IN A PLACE WHERE NOBODY WOULD EVER FIND THEM, BECAUSE IT WOULD BE SO INCREDIBLY UNCOOL AND WEIRD IF ANYBODY EVER DID………SCRATCH THAT, DO NOT WRITE ANY OF THIS DOWN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES). Then you need to analyze the answers to these questions. Were there similar answers that came up over and over again from multiple subjects? If you found that most of your 600 cool people smelled good, were kind to children, and had awesome hobbies, then maybe YOU need to smell good, be kind to children, and have awesome hobbies.
Remember that these are 600 people who YOU selected (I’m totally exaggerating about that number, but do as many as you can), and 100 questions that YOU came up with, to get 100 answers that YOU analyzed. How you interpret that data can be the foundation for what YOU think is cool. Even though you pulled that data from a lot of different people (unbeknownst to any of them), the final pool of information should be 100% unique to you, and therefore totally authentic. How, and what you decide to implement into your own character or lifestyle will determine how cool you become in your own eyes. The cooler you become in your own eyes, surprisingly, the cooler you will seem to other people.
This is a lifelong pursuit. You must be always focused on the cool. Never stop watching, listening and learning. If you’re older and you feel like you’ve attained your cool, but then you give up learning about it and pursuing it, the cool will elude you. In the worst case scenario (and I see this ALL the time) you can become stuck in a time-warp of cool. 1985 cool is cool in 1985, but not cool at the time that I’m writing this book, but I’ve seen a lot of people who are 1985 cool, and completely oblivious to time marching on. They walk around with a ridiculously outdated hairstyle, and questionable fashion choices, and have no idea how ridiculous they look. To be clear, if you look like 1985, and you’re not doing it on purpose for some sort of weird Hipster irony thing, then you cannot be cool in whatever year it is right now. You must never stop evolving. The cool will always evolve. You either evolve with it, or get stuck. I would argue that it’s almost better to be completely ‘un-cool’ than stuck in a cool that no longer exists, but that’s just me. Not to beat the crap out of this point, but you should be cool no matter how old you are. There are different standards for cool to accommodate different age groups, so I’m not saying that 60 year olds should dress or act like teenagers, but there are too many people who think it’s okay to just mentally check out of your cool after they’ve had a kid or two. It’s not OK. You can tone down your Coolspectations, but you cannot get stuck in some freaky pop culture and fashion time warp. You are not serving anybody’s best interests when you do this.
Here are a couple of examples of basic cool concepts that most people need to address on their journey to cool.
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s a big one for me. This may sound basic, but if you like the way everyone on your list smells, how do you smell? Maybe there are some hygiene products that would help you smell good if you don’t already. By the way, if you aren’t sure if you smell good, then you probably could upgrade. Maybe cough up a few bucks for a nice bottle of cologne. My recommendation is to not to pick the one that Johnny from the gym has. Go to the fragrance counter at your local department store. Try a few on. Different fragrances work well with different skin. There will be a perfect fragrance for you. I always favour a unique scent instead of the wildly popular one that everyone wears. That’s just me though. I always like to imagine that some girl I used to know will smell a cologne I used to wear somewhere years later, and then starts feeling nostalgic about me. This is only made possible by a unique cologne choice, because if you’re rocking some Calvin Klein scent that 8000 people at your high school had, then nobody will remember it was you that wore it. That probably doesn’t happen for me in real life, but in my head I believe it does, and if I don’t believe something like that in my own head, then nobody else will, but we’ll touch on those things later in the Confidence chapter. To summarize, finding the fragrance that suits you best is WAY cooler than buying a popular fragrance because you heard a lot of cool people had it. That’s lame. Not as lame as not smelling good, or worse….. smelling bad.
I’m guessing that every person who goes through the exercise of finding 600 cool people, and asking themselves 100 questions about why that person is cool will come to the conclusion that they like the way cool people dress. This is one of the most paramount things with being cool is looking cool. Again, some people just look cool, and hardly have to work at it. Others won’t be able to achieve this with such ease, but it’s a learnable skill to be sure. Be aware of fashion! You don’t have to follow it too closely unless you want to. You just have to make sure that you aren’t completely out to lunch with your wardrobe choices. I can’t sit here and explain to you what I think you should be wearing. What I think is irrelevant to your cool. Besides, any fashion tips I could give would be outdated by the time you read this book anyways. The most important tip I will give you is the following. Wear clothes that look good on YOU. You can spend money but you don’t have to. You can buy great fashion brand names, but you don’t have to. Get clothes that look good on YOU. I capitalize that because so many people see clothes that look good on other people and think ‘I wanna buy that’. I can’t emphasize this enough. Just because something looks good on someone else, doesn’t mean it will look good on you. Find what looks good on you. Also, don’t feel like you can’t look good because you don’t have a lot of money. Some of the most stylish people I’ve met are thrift shoppers. If you’re willing to spend the time to understand fashion and style, or at least have a minimal working knowledge of it, you should be able to find clothes that work for you under any budget. If you look good, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel good. Looking good and feeling good leads to confidence, and confidence leads to cool.
There are people who you will identify as cool. You can’t take the same path to cool as they did, but it is good for you to know what their path was, and if there was anything to be learned. At the end of the day, whoever you think is cool will have achieved that through their own unique self-expression. While it’s important to know why you think other people are cool, it is only through your own unique self-expression, that others will find you cool. It sounds easy, but for most people it’s a bit of a process. With a little research, some implementation of some cool tools, and a better understanding of your own personal cool, you’ll be well on your way.