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Pushing Past Fear

Pushing Past Fear by Flying Your Freak Flag

“White collar conservative flashin’ down the street, pointing that plastic finger at me.  They all assume my kind will drop and die, but I’m gonna wave my freak flag high.”    Jimi Hendrix

I work under an assumption.  I assume that every human life is unique, and each life tells a unique story.  I believe that no one who came before you, or anyone who comes after you, will be able to tell your unique story to the world in the same way that you can.  If you don’t tell your story, the world will be a poorer place.

I believe that your unique story supplies the words and pictures found on your freak flag, and it is imperative that you push past fear and fly that flag.

The trouble is I haven’t always believed that for myself.

I am great at listening and identifying the specific strengths that you bring to the world.  I excel at helping you to tell your magnificently unusual story.  I don’t do as well with my narrative.  But that is changing.

I have enjoyed the work of Dave Rendall, and his book The Freak Factor.

Here’s a bit from the foreword:

“We all have dreams.  But people around us often tell us to ‘be more realistic.’  When they give us this advice, what they usually mean is that we should buy into the same assumptions and prejudices…   But it just may be that an atrophy of their own sensibilities has limited their thinking to a shrunken view of reality.  Their world may be the emotional size of a postage stamp.  But yours need not be at all.

You are a freak of nature.  There is no one else in the world who can exactly replicate your unique combination of genetics, background, and personal experience.  You are one of a kind.  Make the most of this astonishing fact in your life and work.”

That sounds good, but I’m not a freak, you say.

Your freak factor doesn’t seem special to you.

But it is.

Some of you are like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, a total freak designed specifically for one task, swimming fast.

Some of you are more like Marilou.  Marilou is my mother in law and her freak factor is her creativity.  Painting, sewing, the medium is not that important.  The medium is only a delivery system for the gift.  I remember one time Jody and I were visiting her in her flower shop.  She had a rush arrangement going out, She was angry with a problem client.  While telling us about the troublesome client, she was arranging the rush order.  While she was fussing about the client, she never really looked at the flowers and accents that she was arranging.  And when she finished, it was beautiful.  That’s the point.  She cannot stop being creative, even when distracted and upset.  It’s in her, and it wants to come out..

So, what is your freak factor?   Who are you, in your own idiosyncratic form of excellence?

The early glimmers of my freak factor showed up in sixth grade during speech to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I had written the essay that won their contest, and was then asked to deliver a speech to this group of ladies.  In the Methodist church basement, with it’s vinyl tile, fluorescent lights, wooden podium too tall to use and full of folding metal chairs,  I had my first encounter with my freak factors, the three key elements of my life.

  • The ability to communicate with people through writing.

  • The ability to communicate through speaking.
  • The ability to teach.

The writing and speaking factors showed up early.  The teaching factor wasn’t validated until later.

I attended a breakout in a conference, where the speaker spoke of how to know if  you are wired  to teach.  Bill Hybels talked about teachers always thinking on parallel tracks, like train tracks.  When teachers acquire new information or insight, they immediately begin to think two things.  How can I apply this? And how can I share this information with other people?

I knew this way of thinking.  It was the way my brain had always worked. I had always assumed these dual tracks were, in some way, defective.  I had allowed other people to label and define my way of viewing the world and processing information as a lack of focus.  What I thought was attention deficit (we didn’t even have that term back then) was actually a gift.

It’s no accident that I find the core of my work in helping people to name and embrace their glorious God-designed freak within.

“Bring the world the greatest gift you can give the rest of us – yourself, in all your glorious you-ness.” Tom Morris

How about it?   What is your freak factor?


About Bill Todd

Bill Todd is a spiritual director and speaker living in Franklin TN. He is patiently loved by Jody Todd, and their children Kaleigh, Hannah, and Liam.


11 thoughts on “Pushing Past Fear by Flying Your Freak Flag

  1. It’s good to know that being FREAK is ok. Thanks Bill for this affirmation this morning.


    Posted by Jim Drake | April 6, 2011, 8:55 am
  2. Great post – love your freak flag! (Also love Jimi Hendrix.) Keep saying what God’s given you to say, Bill. No one can say it quite like you.

    Posted by Jeff Goins | April 6, 2011, 1:06 pm
  3. A distracted freak who synthesizes constantly and thinks everyone else should know too, did I mention impulsive speech that comes out? Sometimes I am smart other wise it’s crap to get my way – I believe that is called charm

    Posted by Tina b | April 6, 2011, 2:07 pm
  4. This really encouraged me. And gives me much to think about. Do you think experiences and passions are also a part of our “freak factor”? Also, can you send me information about spiritual direction? I’ve been looking for someone closer to me ……

    Posted by jan owen | April 6, 2011, 4:20 pm
    • No doubt that our experiences and passions are part of our “freak factor.” The experiences and passions define and launch our innate strengths, our freak-ness.

      Looking forward to talking with you tomorrow.

      Posted by Bill Todd | April 6, 2011, 10:51 pm
  5. I was frustrated for many years while competing in karate forms. My instructor at the time was all about perfection. There was this one way of doing it, and you had to have it right. And I never did very well in competition. Then I switched instructors. My new instructor said, “You know the form. Now, tell the story.” Each form is a 30-45 second story of conflict and victory. Once I understood how to “tell the story” my forms looked real, and I started winning competitions.

    Posted by Fred Miller | April 7, 2011, 7:38 am
    • “You know the form. Now, tell the story.”

      Wow. As soon as I read this, I started to think about all of the areas that one can apply this truth. Gonna hafta study on that one awhile. Thanks Fred.

      Posted by Bill Todd | April 7, 2011, 2:06 pm


  1. Pingback: You Know the Form, Now Tell the Story « The Red Backpack - April 13, 2011

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