"People are intimidated by you.”
I have heard that statement over and over for the past 20+ years. Ever since I was in my late teens I have been told that people were intimidated by me. I’d ask what they were intimidated about, or what I ever did to make someone scared of me, and the best I ever get as a response is either ‘you communicate in a very shotgun sort of way’ or a third person story about something I theoretically did.
For a while I tried to amend how I act and what I do to make it so people would stop being intimidated by me, but, logic kicked in more than a decade ago and I have stopped trying to make people less scared of me.
I am a very motivated, driven, and hard working person. While I don’t think everything I have ever worked on is a golden statue on the mantle, I have busted ass to achieve a lot in my life. I built both a LARP Network and a publication company from the ground up during a period of time that many people consider the worst financial environment since the great depression. I left a good paying (but shitty emotionally) job to become my own boss, to ply my trade to the world, and try to do some good along the way. In 5 years I have earned 3 award, written in 15 books, worked on both theatrical and boffer LARPs, created an international player network of some of the most awesome gamers in existence, and have been credited as one of the best go-to people in my field. I have written for TV shows, I have spoken on so many panels and ran so many demos that I have a shoe box full of convention passes, and I have been a guest speaker at two major name colleges in regards to game design theory.
I did not achieve any of this by being meek, playing it safe, or waiting for someone else to tell me I should be doing it. I did not do this alone, I did not do this overnight, and I did not do this because someone else provided me with the means to do so. There was, and is, countless hours of boots on the ground making this happen.
I did this by working with amazing people, having a fantastic work ethic, and being very clear in my drive. I did this by being willing to fail, failing, picking myself back up after failing, and trying again with knowledge I learned from my prior failure. I did this by spending at least 5 hours every morning writing, 8-12 hours a day working, and sacrificing portions of my life to make this happen. I have lost friends, had relationships end, and I have pushed to do whatever I could do to improve myself.
And there were points where I wanted to give it up. When you get to a point where people complain about the same topic, at two different ends of the spectrum, you want to run away screaming. I started playing dichotomy bingo where the center was just vile and either side of the card in line were polar opposites. If I could be called both a ‘greedy selfish bastard’ and ‘overly liberal hippy asshole’ in the same week, I checked them both off. One time on the same day I was able to check off ‘anti-American’ and ‘overly pro-American centrist’. WOO! Double point score!
But regardless, you don’t become a success or make headway at what you want to do by letting people dictate what you can and cannot do. You listen to feedback, you consider each individual source, and you listen to the moving undertones instead of the individual spikes. Eventually, when you work really hard at something over a long enough period of time, you need to limit the field of direction changing feedback you consider on a day to day basis.
If you can sift between the opinions and the actual usable feedback, you use those materials to improve yourself. That is what a successful person does: they strive and push to improve themselves as often as they can. The successful person works hard to ensure that they do more and more in their field, work harder and harder to be the best at what they do, and continue to work DESPITE the people who tell you that ‘you can’t’ or express their negativity from the sidelines without ever getting into the game.
And when you get to the point where you drive yourself, push yourself, and work to better yourself people are going to become intimidated of you. I do not know a single person who is a success, or driven to soon become a success, where someone hasn’t been intimidated by them. Not because the individuals act in intimidating ways, or do things that make people intimidated by them, but because they operate and function on a different level than those people who are willing and able to passively ‘go along with the program’.
It is better to be feared because you are driven than to be forgotten because you fit in so well with the herd.