When I started public speaking in 2005 I tried to speak the way I always speak. Honest. Clear. Real. Always with a fairly decent sprinkling of profanity.
And as my public speaking career slowly started taking off, the complaints started coming in. On feedback forms mostly. Nobody ever told me to my face to stop swearing (although many people did come up to me and compliment me for my honesty and no bullshit approach).
And then a few speakers bureaus refused to represent me because I swear. And when I told my wife she asked me if the swearing was really necessary. And so there came a point when I had to sit down and give it some serious thought.
I’m just being me. And at the end of the day, that’s all I’ve got to offer. And that’s my message too—be YOU. Wouldn’t I be diluting who I am and what I bring to the party? Or is my swearing just a pathetic juvenile habit that I’ve never grown out of?
The bottom line for me is this: is it worth alienating some people because of some of the words I choose? And the answer to that question is an unequivocal, “Fuck yes!”. And here’s why.
When it comes to topics of self-worth, identity, motivation, passion and purpose, any change requires some degree of shock and discomfort—by definition. After all, life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Swear words demand attention and take people out of their comfort zone. A well-timed swear word can be like a proverbial slap in the face. And the slap won’t happen if I say something like, “Go for it!”. It has to be, “Fuck shit up!”.
People need the shock. They need the urgency. They need me to take them outside the boundary of what’s appropriate and what’s acceptable. Or else it just doesn’t work.