This is a topic that seems arrogant to even write about, but two people have asked me to write a blog post about it, so I'm going to take a stab at it. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and one of my strengths is that I have had a fairly interesting life. This has opened a lot of doors for me, specifically doors that would have been closed to me based only on my abilities. I've also seen this same phenomenon in other interesting people. We tend to get more than we deserve.
And it also goes without saying that the ability to be interesting is, in itself, very lucky. It's a luxury to be able to dedicate time and effort to anything other than survival, so I'm thankful I've been given that privilege.
Caveats and justification out of the way, let's talk about being interesting. I'd say that the practice of being personally interesting is primarily the practice of having relevant and unknown things to share with others.
These things can take many forms, but I'd say that the biggest two are having relatable stories to share and having useful knowledge to share. The methods by which you share these things are important, but the most important thing is to have them.
I believe that there are two primary factors that have led me to be an interesting person. The first is that I am primarily interested in doing things that other people don't do. I am lucky that this was my default for some reason, but seeing the benefits it has had on my life has strengthened my preference further. I see one of my primary purposes in life as exploring things that few others explore and then sharing them with everyone from my friends to my readers.
So I have experience in all sorts of things, like gambling, pickup, cave exploring, real estate, tea, bungie jumping, fine art, several foreign cultures and languages, ballet, cruising, fashion, minimalism, and any other number of things. I'm not really an expert in most of these things, but if someone is interested in any of them, I probably have something to share. If you look at this set of interests, you may notice that they are all things which most people have no experience with. That gives me a large surface area of stories and knowledge to transfer.
I gained this experience through the simple practice of following my interests regardless of direct practical application, and by favoring things that are foreign to other people. This path isn't the best in every single way (a person who focused deeply only one one thing would certainly have some serious advantages over me in some ways), but one of its benefits is that it helps me be interesting.
In my twenties I basically just did whatever I wanted to do. This was nowhere near the optimal strategy for earning money, but it was pretty close for becoming interesting. I'm not suggesting that everyone drop everything for the sake of building up interesting experiences, but some of your life should be contributing to making you more interesting. Allow yourself to choose hobbies that don't "make sense". The weirder they are the more interesting they will be.
Physically doing interesting things is the most efficient route towards becoming interesting, but you can also just read interesting books. Don't read the same things that all of your peers are reading; read things that others aren't. If everything you do and read is the same as your peers, you will have very little to share with them.
You must also learn how to relate these things to others. Maybe counterintuitively, the correct method is with a gentle touch. Don't be afraid to share something interesting, but don't force the conversation. Try not to one-up people, because someone who feels like you are trying to outdo them will have adjectives for you besides "interesting". Enjoy other people's stories and conversations, and sparingly add your own stories and knowledge in a way that enhances the conversation.
It seems strange to focus on becoming interesting, but it's actually a very useful skill. People like being around you because they know that you're the only person from whom they'll hear the sorts of things you talk about. Just make sure to balance it with being a good listener. Don't be afraid to be in the spotlight, but don't require it all the time.
Photo is St. Matthias church in Budapest!
Very interesting! LOL .... However, in my 71 yrs, I have found that people that are "interested" rather than "interesting" are more likely to be paid attention to. Just a casual observation over a very long period of time. And yes, if you want to be interesting, share things in your life that are new to others.
"Interesting" post. However, for the people that want to learn how to be interesting, I would ask "WHY do you want to be "interesting?" Most likely (and pretty much the only reason I can figure) is for the social qualification and attention for being someone people consider interesting.
Tynan, you're interesting because you do stuff that others don't...correct, but you didn't do stuff that others don't to be considered interesting - you did them because you had a legitimate interest whether or not they are considered interesting by others, right?
So for someone who wants to become interesting, I'd actually say, who cares?! Do the things that bring you the most fulfillment, even if they're common things, and you'll still be considered interesting for the simple reason that you're happier, and pursuing doing stuff you really love which is more than most others can say!
Wow. I don't know what I was expecting, but I got a ton of awesome feedback from you guys. Some people literally wrote a page or two.
So first of all... thanks a ton. I read every single reply (over one hundred total) and got a ton of good info.
I'll share some of the insights provided.
Rafael C. Santos left this really excellent comment on "Whose on Your War Counsel?" -
This is very interesting to me. I also like to have counselers around me, specially now I am building my start-up (as a lone founder) and I also have a diverse set of goals, ideas and interests. A big coincidence is that I would have pretty much the same counsels as you, even the martial arts counsel, as I am also a fighter. Anyway, a few thoughts though:
1) I cannot imagine having a person that wouldn’t be at least in 2 or 3 counsels, because most of my problems involves multiple subjects at the same time;
2) Sometimes you cannot discuss individually with a counseler, you need others involved, and it is very hard to engage different people in the same discussion, specially if a counseler doesn’t know the other, being this relevant when the discussion involves multiple areas. It is even harder as some people use phones, others use email and others just visiting them, in order to comunicate;
3) Sometimes I just need someone to chat about random thoughts and ideas, but most people I know tend to not talk much when I share with them. This happens because usually the idea is too broad and involve other areas that aren’t of their expertise, and then their insecurity blocks them, failing to share any thoughts or ideas that might give me insights, new ideas or an improved one. This is also a very high blocking wall when I am trying to keep these close people updated in my projects, usually they tend to lose interest.