I went to the World Domination Summit (WDS) conference last week. In case you missed it, I heard some great speakers, and was greatly inspired to challenge myself.

My favorite part of WDS was the last night, where nearly a thousand of us moved into a big concert hall, and learned Bollywood dancing on the fly while grooving with the DJ.

It was incredible. None of us knew how to Bollywood dance, least of all me. Yet it didn’t stop anyone: people were jumping up and down, screaming, laughing, and trying hard to keep up with the dancers on stage. We all had a blast, and I can attribute it to one important thing: we weren’t afraid of making complete fools of ourselves.

The Gaze Of Judgment

Have you ever been to a club where everyone seemed stifled? Doesn’t it suck so much?

I used to party in those kinds of places all the time: people would just stand around with their arms crossed, and stare everyone down. No one would approach anyone new to talk, or make a move to the dance floor, or do anything fun, as it was too risky. They were too afraid of being embarrassed, as if the world was watching and judging them for it.

Then, as the night wore on, someone would hit the dance floor. Maybe they were naturally outgoing, or very secure, and had probably had a drink or two to help them out. They would rock out, have a great time, and little by little a trickle effect would kick in: everyone would eventually join them.

After all, if the people already dancing aren’t feeling shame, maybe they won’t either, right? Right.

The night would come to an end, the dancefloor would stay full, and everyone would have a blast. They’d all go home happy, ready for another night at a club. Where the same thing stifling effect would happen again.


Because people are so goddamn afraid of embarrassing themselves in public.

My Archnemesis Mr. Shame

I have a confession to make: I don’t have any memory of a time when I didn’t know what shame was. In fact, until the age of 22, shame was a huge part of my life. Want some examples?

  • I was ashamed to tell people I didn’t like the food they gave me.
  • I was ashamed of the way I dressed.
  • I was ashamed of being loud in public and drawing attention to myself.
  • I was ashamed of my body.
  • I was ashamed of my speech patterns.
  • I was ashamed of doing anything that made me stand out.
  • I was ashamed of not knowing something, and never asked questions in class.

The list was never ending. I remember once standing in the wrong line at the passport office for 45 minutes because I was too ashamed to ask someone if I was in the right place. When I got to the counter and they told me I had to go somewhere else, I turned a bright cherry tomato red and walked off, embarrassed.

The shame was a horrible sensation, stifling, like a room closing in on you with no escape.

The worst part is, it’s a self-made prison, so it’s no one else’s fault but yours.

The best part is, it’s a self-made prison, which means you have the power to break free.

Our Fearless Hero Escapes!

ESCAPE! (click for full strip)

At this point in time, I’m 28 and not ashamed of very much. I don’t remember when it was exactly that I began to feel less shame. I do know that it started during my 23rd year, and it has something to do with the following question:

If someone else were to do what I am about to do, would I applaud them? Or judge them?

About 99% of the time, my answer is applaud. When I see someone send back gross food at a restaurant, or shamelessly sing in public, I want to cheer for them at the top of my lungs. The 1% of judgment is reserved for horrific things like pushing an old lady into traffic, or running over a box of puppies. And I would never applaud anyone doing those things, unless it was really funny.

Now, once I realize I’d applaud someone else for what I’m about to do, I am secure in the knowledge it is awesome. At that point, I no longer need outside approval. I give myself permission to do whatever it is I want to do, by pretending to look on from the outside. In a sense, I’ve become my own audience, and I give myself a hearty round of self-applause.

When I began to use this tool to put things in perspective, the claustrophobic bubble of shame I lived in seemed to expand. There was more room to breathe, to be free. I began to take more risks, and do more ballsy things on a daily basis, like approach a beautiful girl, or strip naked in a room full of people (sign up for my mailing list before Friday to get the full scoop on that last one!)

The most important part is that I no longer stifled my desires. 

What’s My Point?

My point, dear geeks, is that shame is stopping you from doing that thing you love. Also, in keeping with the spirit of GutsyGeek, shame is stopping you from approaching that girl you’ve been eyeballing for the last little while. Shame is saying “don’t go talk to her, because if she rejects you, everyone will think you’re a loser and you’ll be terribly embarrassed.”

The real you, on the other hand, the part of you that wants to applaud you, says “go talk to her right now. Break free of your bubble. Go be a wizard riding a unicorn on a rainbow in space.”

During WDS, when a buddy of mine challenged me to sing a song about the conference to complete strangers, for a split second, I thought about how embarrassing that would be. Then I imagined how much fun and adrenaline I’d get out of it. My answer? “Hell yes!”

I wrote a 2-verse 2-chorus song and sang it to a group of people that were walking up the street, knowing full well that I have a horrible singing voice and trouble staying in tune.

Don’t believe? Here’s the video for you to have a good laugh:

See? No shame. I’ve just posted a ridiculous video of myself for the world to see. And just so you know, the part where it cuts because the battery ended? They applauded right afterwards.

When was the last time you felt really embarrassed?

8 comments add your comment

  1. Great acticle, and seriously funny vid dude! So very awesome.

    What you were mentioning about clubs and dancing is so true. It reminded me how quite a few of the parties and clubs we went to we ended up starting the floor when it was dead. As soon as we hit it, everyone soon joins in. Ahhh fond memories.

    • Haha thanks man, I was thinking of that time the four of us went to Karina’s and hit up the empty dance floor. We were surrounded within minutes, it was awesome.

  2. Man, I don’t know how I missed you singing the song, I must have been so far in front heading to the next place. It was great meeting/hanging out with you at WDS this year, hope to see you next year!

    • LOL, about half the pack vanished and then we regrouped. Next year we’ll party twice as hard, and I’ll get you to sing with me 😀

  3. Hey man, great job of summing up what holds back so many people in social venues: shame. And way to lead by example.

    There used to be a time when I didn’t even think women WANTED to dance with guys at clubs. Now it’s my favorite way to meet them.

    • Thanks for your input dude.
      I used to think girls didn’t want to dance with guys at clubs either. I turned a blind eye to the large amount of singles that end up grinding and making out within minutes.

      I realized it’s easy to believe what you want when you’re ashamed to try it. Once I pushed through though, I was one of the happy guys getting inappropriately touched. 😉

  4. For any doubters out there, he DID get applause from everyone on the street, and they actually all wanted to know more about WDS, which was fantastic.

    What’s more fantastic is how they tried to run away at first, and Rami stuck with them. They were more embarrassed than he was! It’s funny how when you actually nut up and do something that you think will be embarrassing, the people around you feel self-concious because they didn’t have the stones to do it in the first place.

    • Asia! You are too kind. And I completely forgot to mention how it’s easy to feel embarrassed when you see someone else doing something ridiculous.
      Great point!

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