I’ve had this saying going for a few months now, where I tell my friends that they need to ‘Chase the Cool’. The concept has had some incubation, and now I think I’m at the point I can walk people through behind my new ethos, my new compass, on what I should and should not aspire to do, or be. I hope you like it and find it useful.
To help illustrate the point I’ll use a real life story. It’s easy to find many stories that match, but for this example, we’ll pick the story of the PS22 Primary School Chorus in Staten Island, New York. Know of it?
Here’s a sample:
PS22 Chorus performing ‘Walking on a dream’ by Empire of the Sun.
The origins of the PS22 Chorus are very humble. It started with the music teacher, Mr Breinberg thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to engage the kids via music? Wouldn’t it be cool to record the kids singing covers of modern songs, songs that probably aren’t normally sung in schools?
He blogged about it for a while, and recorded their efforts for friends and family. Early on, it probably made no sense for him to go to all this extra effort, to work above and beyond the regular teacher’s call of duty. He did it because he thought it was cool. Humble beginnings, but it snowballed. And this leads me to my first point of my ‘chasing cool’ theory:
Cool attracts cool. People are drawn to it.
It starts out from the innocent premise – “Wouldn’t it be cool!?”. You’re not focused on the economics of it, or whether it makes sense to work hard on something that may not go anywhere, all that is unimportant. You’re motivated by something higher than money. You think it is cool and interesting, and that is all the motivation that is needed.
The instant you throw that snowball, you’re different from who you were before, and with some consistency of purpose, something strange starts to occur.
The snowball gets bigger. Cool gets even cooler. Then it takes on a life of its own.
People want to be part of, or associated with something that is cool. It makes our eyes shine. It is this moment, that we are at our most creative, when anything is possible. It’s a great feeling, is very rewarding, and becomes a beacon for like minded people.
So to return to the PS22 example, a buzz started to form, people shared the videos and word got out. Mr Breinberg was making cool. Get around it they said.
And that is exactly what happened. Celebrities heard of the school, watched their videos, and wanted to be a part of the story. They went out of their way to visit the school. Not to steal the limelight, but to give something back to Mr Breinberg and his class. To be part of the cool.
Nearly 50 million youtube hits later, there has been TED conferences, an appearance on Oprah, they’ve performed for the President, along with hundreds of other performances and numerous celebrity visits. On top of this, funding for the school and its program has gone from strength to strength.
There is no way Mr Breinberg could ever have dreamed that his little project would reach such heights.
It started out as someone thinking, wouldn’t it be cool….
PS22 is just one example from life that supports my theory. There are many examples, but Mr Breinberg and PS22 were picked over others because it’s the story of someone pursuing cool, within the confines of normal employment. The action has benefited both himself, and his employer. Chasing cool does not have to be at odds with your situation.
To wrap up my theory of “Chasing the cool” I want to re-define what is cool:
Cool isn’t a skateboard, a brand of sneakers, or being more ‘with it’ than your mates. Cool is what you are into.
Cool is an idea you have, to do something and see what happens. It’s an individual thing, or at least, it starts out that way. When thinking about the idea, your eyes will light up, you’ll be excited, and finding motivation to do the work will be easy.
It’s a little bit like ‘chasing your dream’ only that it doesn’t require the unrealistic premise that you know where you will end up. It’s the more agile, humble version and it is best implemented in baby steps. It doesn’t require you to do anything radical.
How do you know that you’re on the right track? One of your barometers of success should be whether you feel your eyes shining in enthusiasm.
Don’t let other’s dampen it, and don’t get too logical about it all. Chase the cool. Even if it leads nowhere, you’ll be happier for it.
Do it right, and soon, other people will want to get involved. Cool makes cool.
Interested in reading more on the PS22 Chorus? They run their own blog at http://www.ps22chorus.blogspot.com.au/
As always- Thoughts? Comments? Hit me up in the comments below..