Nov 4, 2015–It’s not easy to be interesting. In fact, it’s dangerous.

But it’s the most worthy thing to be.

Blogger/writer Seth Godin recently wrote an “interesting” piece about this concept. While I had thought that being interesting is a static trait that some people have and some don’t, he points out that it is a choice. Even more, being interesting is a risk.

The temptation to be interesting–especially in a staid environment such as church, school, work, family reunions–must be balanced with the danger of being offensive or inappropriate. That danger means most of us don’t have the courage to be interesting in the boardroom or our boss’s office. We fall back on being safe. That is why all meetings are boring.

All meetings.

Being interesting is not the same as being funny or disruptive. Little is more annoying than the class clown who is with us well beyond our school days, who throws out tangential comments or worse–the “obvious” observation. Those types of feedback are not interesting; they are distracting.

My favorite review of music is that great music is a fine balance between the inevitable and the unexpected. Godin says it another way.

“An interesting person is interesting to us because she combines two things: Truth and surprise.”

Think “truth”–a bluegrass band. Then think “surprise”–a bluegrass band playing Pinball Wizard.

The risk comes in that during any attempt to say something in a new or interesting way, you run the risk of making a blunder. Or revealing ignorance. Or inadvertently insulting someone (witness any benign Facebook post).

But blinding clarity comes! Interesting people are interested!

People who are interested in the world around them make the most interesting people. It’s not the cocktail party boor who has been around the world and wants to make sure everyone knows.

It’s the guy at that same cocktail party who has never left the state but is interested in learning about the people who have.

Taken at the most basic level, a speaker (teacher, meeting leader) must pay attention to the people in the room. How many of us have listened to a speaker drone on too long. They are not interested in us as audience. They have no empathy. They don’t sense the shifting in the seats, the glazed eyes, the surreptitious looks at the smartphones and watches.

I have been in position to interview and hire hundreds of instructors of classes. The most dangerous person is the one that states, “I LOVE to be in front of a class!” From experience, I know that candidate is speaking the truth. But I know it in a different perspective: She loves to be in front of a captive audience. Those kinds of teachers are really performers. It becomes all about their teaching.

I am interested in the “learning.” The better instructor is the one who admits to feeling a bit shy about teaching a class. Because that person will do their homework, will create compelling content, will make sure everyone in the room is engaged. Most of all, they will spend the least amount of time lecturing. Because they can’t wait to get out of the front of the class, get the attention off of them, and let the learning begin. They can’t wait to see what their class creates.

They are interesting to their students, because they are interested in their students.

Are you interesting?