In my office, the moniker “badass” is thrown around a lot. We use it to describe many things: how well someone is performing, how many accomplishments someone has accumulated, their ability to close a sale or turn a profit, how well they can ask someone out on a date, and their overall potential for awesomeness.
With so much badassery, I’m left wondering, "What exactly does it mean to be a badass?"
The Urban Dictionary defines a badass as someone who “does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants. You won't find him on Facebook because he is probably out being cool somewhere. He might be on a motorcycle, but it's probably not a Harley or a crotch rocket because he won't spend that much money to be accepted. He feels no obligation whatsoever to justify his beliefs, values, convictions, morals, etc., with anyone. He likes his music because it sounds cool to him. You won't find him if you look for him because there is no sure way to identify him. One does not think that he is badass; he KNOWS it, and that's that. Alternatively, a badass is the complete opposite of a douchebag.”
After a very informal survey in our office, I will suggest a few more traits that badasses possess.
They say yes first, then figure out how to deliver
Badasses have a confidence that’s rarely seen in most people. If a job is anywhere near their wheelhouse, they will absolutely find a way to get it done—or they will die trying. They do this because they are not only confident in their abilities, but they are just as confident in other people. To a badass, there is absolutely a way to solve every problem.
They think differently than everyone else
Most of society’s problems aren’t new. Badasses tackle old problems with a vast array of creative solutions. Instead of designing a corporate newsletter that no one will read to “improve communication,” a badass would create a holograph of the CEO welcoming you to work every Monday morning, telling you the latest news for the week. And a badass CEO would wear a flowing gown seen in this Kate Moss holographic video. That would improve communication.
They speak up
If they have a contrary thought, they say it. But they aren’t argumentative. That would just make them an ass.
They have a replicable skill that others can learn
Badasses aren’t shy to share what they’re good at. High skill + high confidence + share with others = badass. If you really want to be a badass, inject energy and innovation into your teaching method, and people will flock to learn from you.
They live by their own code
Whether their code is to be a creative force in the world, to disrupt technologies or to challenge others to examine their lives, badasses are unwilling to compromise who they are for the comfort or approval of others. With a healthy disrespect for authority, they answer to a power that is deep within them.
They have the audacity to do things that others only wish they could do
My favorite quote is, “The Wright Brothers never had a pilot’s license.” Rather than look around for permission or approval, badasses are courageous. They are initiators. They have an idea, then act. Rather than research and pontificate on the problem ad nauseum, they just do stuff to find a solution.
They never, ever, ever give up
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule, which states that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become a master at anything. This research is really measuring a concept known as grit—your ability to stick to something long enough to get to 10,000 hours. Someone that embodies grit is the anti-dilettante. Rather than flit around from thing to thing, gritty people are tenacious, dogged, persevering and absolutely refuse to give up. They pick something, and they stick with it. And the grittiest people don’t just work longer and harder—although that is part of the equation—they also have a laser focus on their goal, saying “no, thank you” to anything that gets in their way.
They don’t listen to the haters
There are many reasons to listen to the haters—to save face, stay comfortable, be secure, to not look like the fool. But “the person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.” The hater’s job is to scare you into submitting to the status quo. Badasses don’t listen.
Dr. Shelley Prevost is a positive psychologist. She is a partner and director of happiness at Lamp Post Group. Follow her on Twitter @thegladlab. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.