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by Alex Clifford

I’m a very fake person, most of the time. Most of us are and need to be to survive.

“Real life is acting. Acting is real life” someone once told me.

There’s nothing wrong with being fake. In fact, it needs to be that way for most of the world to function right now.

It’ll continue to be that way until robots and technology automate the majority of jobs away, and we live in an age of  overabundance. But not being honest costs us. It takes a huge toll on our spirits and it’s easy to end up like zombies.

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The truth is I’m not very close to many people. I can only really get close to people who have a glint in their eye.

It’s a certain twinkle. An awareness of something more. It’s a certain glimmer that hints of worlds beyond our own. Mischievous children have it.

It’s usually combined with a very sharp intelligent awareness of what’s going on. It’s a closeness to imagination and creativity. It’s an ability to see beyond what’s in front of you, the underlying rules of everything. It’s a kind of magic and alchemy. It also represents naughtiness, an ability and desire to break the rules.

Paul Graham writes this on what Y Combinator look for in startup founders

Though the most successful founders are usually good people, they tend to have a piratical gleam in their eye. They’re not Goody Two-Shoes type good. Morally, they care about getting the big questions right, but not about observing proprieties. That’s why I’d use the word naughty rather than evil. They delight in breaking rules, but not rules that matter. This quality may be redundant though; it may be implied by imagination.

Sam Altman of Loopt is one of the most successful alumni, so we asked him what question we could put on the Y Combinator application that would help us discover more people like him. He said to ask about a time when they’d hacked something to their advantage—hacked in the sense of beating the system, not breaking into computers. It has become one of the questions we pay most attention to when judging applications.

I can’t really relate to anyone who doesn’t have that. That sounds terrible.

Well I can. I can relate to their underlying emotions and situation whatever. But unless they have that piratical gleam in their eye, I don’t see them as equal to me. I see myself as above them.

I can give them what they need and get what I need… some combination of genuine caring along with some acting. But it gets boring, unstimulating and stale quickly.

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It feels like being Harry Potter in a world of muggles.

Why is that gleam in the eye such a good indicator?

The eyes are the window the soul. It’s such a good indicator because that streak is someone’s relevance to me.

It’s my biggest cue of their evolutionary intelligence. To me it represents how much they can adapt or evolve to problems.

Can they draw the dots? Can they solve seemingly impossible problems? How resourceful are they? How well do they read people’s true intentions? How effective are they at getting things done? Can they see systems holistically (how all the moving parts and cogs fit together)? How quickly do they learn the real rules of the game? Can they imagine themselves being someone other than their current identity?

This is all very abstract.

But I can only have a totally honest conversation with somebody who gets that. Everything else feels like a waste of time.

When I do it, it’s very sexy, it’s very exciting and it’s very real.

The truth is most people are inert. They’re very distant from their energy, their juju, their inner true self. That’s why everything is such a struggle and they hate Mondays.

But they don’t have the momentum or strength of vision to change that. When I’m around muggles, or doing a job, it feels like being stuck in a cul-de-sac, a dead end – I desperately need to reverse out of there.

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But when you see a firecracker of a human being – there is electricity, there is creation, new possibilities open up. There is a real energy transference. You can sense them and their energy field from several meters away. You feel ALIVE!!! You know.

As arrogant and as aloof as the above is – I know I sound like a complete arsehole. But the thing is I’m just frustrated. And I’ve been frustrated for so so so long. I’ve tried to fit in, do what I “should do”. Work a job. Then I tried doing the cool thing – go self-employed, travel the world. Blah blah blah.

But even this “cool lifestyle” gets dull, monotonous and repetitive – I can’t bare ‘normality’. Cinderella’s shoe doesn’t fit.

It’s only the little bits of time I spend with the mischievous, visionary, magical people that make it everything seem worthwhile.

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So never let the magical gleam in your eye disappear – it’s the only thing in this world that matters.

About the Author:

AlexFeedbackAlex Clifford is a sought-after copywriter working on undoing his British conditioning. Besides that (and leaving all British understatement aside),  Alex is a gifted writer and disturber with a deep sense of magic and a profound knowing about the big mechanisms that keep the world in play. He also is a visionary with all things business, education, technology, therapy and culture. He has a very dark and wicked sense of humor. You can read more of his writing at alexclifford.me or connect with him on Facebook.






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  • Show Comments (2)

  • Shaheen

    Thank you! Thank you for owning your power, and showing others how to own theirs. Sadly, we live in a world where people think power comes through disempowering others…when really the power comes from living your own personal truth. It is amazing how light you become when you go into the darkness of your self… deep into your own depths! Lets embrace the act of self-expression! The ugly and otherwise…

  • Donna Barker

    Hmm… great thought-piece on two levels: what you shared of yourself (thank you) and then on a personal level for me. I assumed (bad me) the article had been written by a woman and read it that way. It was a ‘Hmmm’ moment when I saw your photo and bio.

    “A guy wrote this? I have to read it again because this changes everything.”

    Actually, it didn’t change much. But it did make me laugh out loud at “Cinderella’s shoe doesn’t fit.”! No, I imagine it doesn’t!

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