by Maisie Smith on August 21, 2014
When I was growing up, I was the quintessential nerd. I read encyclopedias for fun. Kids copied off of me in school because they knew they would get an A. In my world, sliced cucumbers made the perfect snack and I would eat them while watching Alf re-runs on television.
But I also had a secret side. An alter-ego, if you will. She was anything but nerdy. She read Vonnegut under the covers at night. She swore like a sailor in the privacy of her own room and drew tattoos on her upper thigh with a marker. And she dreamed of being the bass guitarist in an all-girl band, rocking out on stages all over the world. She was badass.
That bookish-cucumber side, the one that safely presented itself to the world, ruled life for 30 years. Going through the motions for three decades will eventually wear a person down, so it was no surprise when Badass randomly appeared one day in all of her gritty glory. She was like a page freshly ripped from a magazine and then tacked to a wall for inspiration. Courage came fast and furious. I started asking, “Why?” I pursued what I wanted out of life, knowing that my choices would disappoint others over and over again. People became just… people. Not stars. Not pedestal-dwellers. Just people with problems and insecurities and general loveliness. I stopped being scared and embraced my distinct voice.
When we hear the term “badass,” thoughts likely turn to Chuck Norris. Or Wolverine. You know… the kind of person that doesn’t look back after an explosion. Perhaps you think of motorcycle boots and a cigarette carelessly hanging from the lips.
What is a badass, really? Is it boots and ripped leather and malevolent glares? Or something more?
I sent a request out to some of my favorite people in the world, asking them to update and define what it means to be a badass.
“A badass is someone who has the balls to unapologetically be who they are as they make a statement in the world.” – Berni Xiong, Brave Bear Media
“A badass is someone who’s unapologetic about their beliefs and demonstrates effortless confidence by the way they carry themselves and live – no explanations necessary (ever).” -Heather Thorkelson, Republic of Freedom
“A badass is someone who could care less if the truth is profitable or measurable and instead embraces the opportunity cost of being human.” -Brett Henley
“Badassery is stating what you stand for, with tolerance, acknowledging that this might not be what other people stand for. It’s being challenging, in an intentional way.” -Lou Shackleton, The You Can Hub
“A badass in in charge of her life. She can take the heat. She’ll empty the gun if she has to. She handles business.” –Stephanie St. Claire
“A badass is a bold person who is inherently strong in their convictions and drive, without a need for the approval of those around them.” -Elisa Doucette, Craft Your Content
“A badass is a strong-willed individual that dares to create a life on his own terms, ignoring the status quo or better, adapting it to his own world.” -Mars Dorian
“A Badass is a person with BALLS>> who does things against the grain….against the status quo…. who might care what “they” think but will not let that get in the way of shaking up the place.” -Shay Knorr, Sharon Knorr Productions
“A badass is a person that is highly skilled, totally plugged into Spirit/Source, one-of-a-kind, sure as shit knows who they are and what they believe, is not swayed by peer pressure of collective thinking, not afraid to speak their mind, go against the grain or walk their walk, and they move through the world in an incredibly confident but humbled way.” -Karen Kenney
“A badass is someone with relentless curiosity and non-judgmental conviction.” –Meg Worden
And from yours truly:
“A badass is someone who carves her own path through life with straightforward tenacity. She does not hide from her convictions or apologize for her strong point of view. She’ll say what needs to be said… and then buy everyone a beer.” -Maisie Smith
Whether in business or in life, I think we’ve all got a bit of badassery inside of us. It’s desperate to run free, even for a moment. To feel the wind in its punk hair.
And flip-off the status quo.
• • •
A badass doesn’t need the title of “Badass”. She is too busy doing cool shit in the world to be concerned with labels. The stereotypical badass persona is trifling. A badass does not hide behind ripped leather or an obnoxious smirk or killer web graphics. She is too busy doing rather than being. Being badass is not about the uniform. If you like shocking red hair and motorcycle boots (me, me, me!), that’s cool. But it doesn’t make you a badass. The true badasses of the world are digging in the trenches, doing their important work boldly and unapologetically.
You don’t have to agree with everyone. Hell, most badasses I know disagree with conventional wisdom most of the time. But a badass will always respect the opinions of others. He will engage in civil conversations with individuals that have differing world views. He will be passionate about his beliefs. In the end, he will agree to disagree and move on with grace and a firm stride. A badass knows that there is plenty of room for everyone at the table.
A strong point of view will take you places. Badasses do not waffle based on the opinions of others. They march forward with confidence. When mistakes happen, they own them, apologize if necessary, and then move on. Badasses know that not everyone will like them. Some may even vehemently oppose them. Badasses keep marching, despite opposition, because they know they are on the right path. They do not need approval. They will make a difference and will do it in their own way.
Something beyond vanilla. Something that makes you feel alive and real. Something that makes a profound statement. Something that moves and inspires your People.
Take chances. Say what needs to be said. Do it with class and audacity. Stand up. Stand out. You’ve got this.
Motorcycle boots not necessary.
Now that we’re clear, let me buy you a beer.