My Social Excellence

by Jason Allen

Let’s recap the definition of Social Excellence (n):

A state of perpetual generosity, curiosity, positivity, and openness to limitless possibility. A desire to intentionally connect with others. The ability to engage in deep, meaningful conversation. Acting in a responsible and respectable manner with high expectations of others. Being authentic and living everyday with integrity as the best version of oneself. Being confident and vulnerable. Being fun and compassionate. Being open, kind, and bold. The highest level of societal participation and contribution. 

This. This right here friends is the most powerful and terrifying concept. Imagine if the world was always Socially Excellent. Imagine what your day would look and feel like. Imagine how amazing ordering your Chick-fil-a would be. Imagine how many people you could actually meet, and that you could even remember all of their names. Imagine answering honestly when someone asks, “how are you?” Imagine how many more people would do a better job flossing because they would be smiling more.

For me, this definition was my biggest hesitation when joining the Phired Up team almost one year ago. I saw these humans at conferences and events and immediately thought “there is no chance in hell that these robots are real people”. In the definition, I saw words like confident, vulnerable, and bold, and wanted nothing to do with those feelings. I believed Social Excellence means extroversion, and extroversion means being the most out-there person in the room, and being out-there in a room full of strangers makes me sweat profusely

Being confident and vulnerable and bold is something I treasure about others, but have a hard time realizing I posses those qualities.  People often tell me they enjoy my confidence when discussing matters, and I assume they are being nice. People love when I share stories about my life, and I assume they are taking pity on me. I have been praised for my bold convictions on morals and integrity, but often feel judged and ridiculed. This is what the Phired Up team chooses to do all the time.

I don’t like being the center of attention and turn all shades of red when there are too many eyes on me. And the folks at Phired Up are often times keynoting and hosting dozens of sessions at conferences – which is something I wanted zero to do with. But, I soon realized that Social Excellence is different for all of us, and that these Phired Up people actually meant what they were talking about. Me viewing them as “out there” was just the team being generous with their time and spirit. Their extroversion was them trying to make intentional, impactful connections with people. They were real, passionate people, and were spreading a message they actually and truly believed in.

So, friends, what am I learning about my Social Excellence after a year of being on the Phired Up team?

  • My generosity: My version of being generous means I am going to give you my time, and ask you to do the same. I am going to ask how you are, and actually want to know the good, bad, and ugly. I am going to invite you to the most special place in the world, and even let you share my Chick-fil-a sauce and nuggets. I will offer to pay for your lunch, but more importantly than the kind gesture, I want to spend some quality time with you. I will celebrate your generosity towards me, and make countless efforts to know you are appreciated.
  • My vulnerability: My version of vulnerability means I am going to tell you everything you wanted to know if you ask. I have a story, and am willing to share it with you; even the things that make me want to vomit when I talk about them. My vulnerability often means I want to discuss my shortcomings, but will hesitate in celebrating my wins.
  • My curiosity: My version of being curious means I want to know all the things about the people in my life. Small talk is not a comfort zone for me; asking about your childhood and your family pet and your awkward phase in high school is where I’m trying to dive in. I want to know why people word phrases the way they do, and why they reacted to a situation they way they did, and how someone got to this point in their life. I would rather know the name of your childhood fish than what you think about the weather.
  • My authenticity: My version of being authentic means you are going to see me, all of me, all of the time. Filters have a place and time, and I believe there are very few places and times for filters. Friends, I like to curse. I don’t use them as offensive words; I believe they are sentence enhancers. As Mo’Nique once shared, I like the way those words taste in my mouth. I am going to speak my truth, regardless if you want to hear it. I will let you know if something you said makes me uncomfortable. If someone is being treated poorly or unfairly, the authentic me is going to insert myself and intervene in the best way I can.

As I think about Social Excellence, I can’t help but think about my reflection piece on masculinity. Social Excellence is reflected in that entire blog, I just never realized or named it that.  And that friends, is the power of Social Excellence. We are all living it in varying ways. But, are we living it to our greatest potential?

How will you be Socially Excellent today?