Are you a troublemaker? Do you embrace fear and move forward in spite of it? Does breaking the rules and carving your own path invigorate you… Or is that the last thing you want to do? Okay, what about this one — Do you truly know yourself? Do you stand in your full self, taking up the space you earned simply by being born?
Sorry to play 20 questions with you right from the start, but I’ve been weighing all of these questions as I studied the words of Luvvie Ajayi Jones. She was once afraid to call herself a writer because she was afraid of the title. She nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. Now, she’s a best-settling author and she’s claimed the title “Professional Troublemaker” as she leads people to continue and achieve their audacious dreams in the face of fear.
I’m so curious about this trouble-maker. Ready to dive in?
A ‘Trash’ Employee
Luvvie started blogging in 2003 when people considered it, “Just playing on the Internet,” she said. She wrote about the typical 18-year old things — the college experience, roommate drama, classes that were challenging. For her, that blog was the first realization that she enjoyed writing outside of school, outside of receiving a grade.
While that first blog is now deleted, Luvvie started her new blog after college and while she was working her first job out of school. Awesomely Luvvie Is her space to write about television, entertainment, race, pop culture, And whatever she sees in the world around her. When the Awesomely Luvvie blog won its first award, she was surprised. It was then she realized that people were paying attention and enjoying her words.
Love you was fired from her job in 2010, “Because I was a trash employee!” she laughed. She always found herself blogging and working on her own projects while at work, but Luvvie still considered her blog and writing just a hobby, not something she could do as a career.
Luvvie went on to seek new opportunities, but kept feeling like the office walls were closing in on her. That feeling compelled her to start building a career as an entrepreneur and turn her writing into a business so she could impact the world with her words.
Fear of Success
With the upcoming release of Luvvie’s new book, she is on the precipice of expansion of her career and success. Luvvie said that fact scares her. She explained, “We often talk about fear of failure, but we don’t talk about fear of success enough. Fear of success is real.”
For Luvvie fear of success is rooted in the fear of not knowing what’s to come, but knowing it’s big. “It’s why I procrastinated,” she explained. And then the pandemic happened. “I am writing a book called ‘Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter Manual’ at a time when we are in the most fearful time of our world,” Luvvie continued. “So what did I do? I sat on my couch and procrastinated.”
Luvvie explained that the book felt bigger than herself, and combining that with the challenges of navigating the pandemic, it caused her to shut down. But what brought her back to the process (and the finishline of writing that book) was realizing that she was writing the book to herself. “I was writing to myself. I was telling myself the things that I needed to hear,” she explained.
Why You Should Do Scary Things
Luvvie has such a fascinating viewpoint when it comes to being a “thought leader” or whatever other tiles people typically assign to her. She hopes that when people read her book or listen to her podcast or even just follow her on social media, that they don’t see her as this extraordinary person, but rather, she hopes people see her as someone who did scary things over and over again and got good at it.
“I’m in a constant challenge with myself to do something that scares me because I’ve spent way too many years doing the opposite and not getting what I want,” Luvvie explained. “But when I started doing that thing that’s scary, that thing that made me shake, it’s always rewarded me. Even if I fall flat on my face, that failure usually leads me to higher ground.”
I also loved when Luvvie said this about constantly working on yourself and being a forever student: “Who you are today is necessary for you to be that dope firehouse that we’re going to talk about in five years.”
Be a Troublemaker
“We’ve been told that being a professional troublemaker is not okay,” Luvvie began, but she encourages everyone to know their strengths and use them to take up space in whatever room you find yourself in without apology.
“Women haven’t been taught to say they’re good at something. We’ve been taught to be doubtful and downplay how good you are because we need you to be humble,” Luvvie continued, “No, no, no, there’s a difference in being humble and denying your gifts. I don’t want us to deny what we’re good at.”
“You don’t do anybody a favor by denying our dopeness,” Luvvie encouraged. “Nobody wins.”
More from this Episode
Luvvie talks about showing up unapologetically and why you need to stop downplaying your strengths, why she dedicated her new book to her grandmother, plus more ways to embrace the troublemaker mindset in your own life.