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I would like to tell you a story. I once knew a woman, for our purposes here, let’s call her Jennifer. Jennifer grew up worrying just a little too much on how people viewed her, how they labeled her. To put it bluntly, she tried to change who she was, inside and out, to better fit in with those around her, instead of changing those around her to better fit herself.
Jennifer would change the way she dressed, the way she spoke, the things she watched, the things she ate, basically turning herself into a completely different person all to escape the confines of a “label”. At her job Jennifer was always at the mercy of her peers. If she worked too hard she was labeled an “over-achiever”, if she stayed late she was labeled as having no life, basically her life was ruled by what others thought of her. It seemed that from a young age Jennifer only cared about going with the flow, just being another fish in the sea and not a shark in a school of guppies.
I met Jennifer at a business get together, and it immediately became apparent to me the prison that Jennifer was locked in, I’ve seen it all too often. I took it upon myself to talk to Jennifer and introduce myself. It quickly became evident that Jennifer was unhappy, even if she didn’t explicitly say it. The way she moved, the way she spoke, there was a sadness there, buried somewhere under the surface, invisible to the untrained eye. I had just the thing for Jennifer, something that I absolutely knew would help her. I presented myself as who I am, a self development / branding expert, and I brought up to her my largest body of work, which also happens to be my way of life, my SWAGGERISM! I explained Swaggerism: it is the practice of how one lives his or her life on a daily basis. It is made up of the knowledge, consciousness and understanding of the self and how one deals with others in each and every situation. It is practiced through how one presents him or herself to the world, based on how that person styles and handles any given situation. Basically the opposite of how Jennifer was living.
She was intrigued by the concept of Swaggerism, and asked how I formed it. Swaggerism was formed as a result of my world travels and conversations with the most interesting and successful (both financially and otherwise) people from all over the world. Theology has long been a subject of great interest to me, to the point where I even chose it as my Masters course. Swaggerism is the best parts of all religions mixed with a healthy dose of understanding and a heaping handful of style, which creates something wholly unique from familiar pieces.
It is easy to differentiate yourself on the outside, but it takes someone truly special to stand apart based on what is inside, and I felt Jennifer had what it takes, she only needed a little push in the right direction. But Jennifer was hesitant at first, she was a bit of a shy person, and she didn’t want to stand out by expressing who she truly is. Over the course of my discussion with her I realized that Jennifer is a very unique person, who is being stifled by her surroundings. She believed that in order to succeed she needs to be vanilla, and fit into other people’s ideas of how someone should act. The nail that sticks out shall be hammered, and all the proverbs that follow that line of thinking were always at the forefront of her mind.
But it shouldn’t be like that, as if that was always 100% in that case we would lose the essence of self and authenticity. Why is it so easy to be unique on the outside while people find it so hard to be unique based on what is on the inside? To put it simply, it is because of fear. Fear of being ridiculed. Fear of being left out. Fear of being labeled. Fear of being put in a neatly wrapped box with a bow, filed away, indexed by something completely out of our control. We all know how that feels, being singled out due to some characteristic or event that is generally and largely out of our control. We should never have to change who we are on the inside to suit some outside force’s ideas or concepts. You are who you are, rip off that label as if it were a nametag sloppily adhered to your shirt, right above your heart.
At this point Jennifer started to realize where I was coming from. That being different, either on the inside or outside is absolutely 175.5% not a bad thing. I am constantly harassed about how I dress. Do I let it get me down? No! That which makes me different makes me stand out. And in my world, standing out is everything. That is the essence of marketing, standing out from the pack. And by looking at me Jennifer could tell I knew what I was talking about, I certainly stand out in a crowd and don’t let others put labels on me. And if they do, so what! A label is only the outside layer, no one knows what truly lies under the surface.
What is this Swaggerism? I know you’ve been wondering. It’s not about what name brands that you wear or perhaps screaming out loud for people to see and notice you. In fact fashion has very little to do with it. It’s about being “YOU-NIQUE”. It is about living in a world of conformity without being conformed. It’s a religion, or should I say a lifestyle, or perhaps to put it succinctly, a way of life. Swaggerism is about finding, refining and defining the self in you. It’s core principles and doctrines are embedded in the understanding and embracement of who you are, no regrets. You should never hate any part of yourself, but it’s never a bad idea to want to change the aspects that you don’t love. Change, like fire, always begins with a lone spark that is fanned into an inferno by swallowing the surrounding oxygen. Change is spurned by that single extraordinary being that inspires the rest to greatness. Martin Luther King. John Lennon. These are visionaries who changed their future, and by extension our own, through the execution of their ideas — their concepts. Most of these visionaries were by no means widely accepted at first, and they had labels attached to them that would shake most of us to the core, but is is how these geniuses dealt with those labels that made them that: GENIUSES. No one likes change outright, but everyone could use some change. You should never be entirely satisfied with where you are in your life at any given point. That may sound like a depressing point, but it doesn’t have to. Embrace those feelings and let them fuel you. You need to set goals and challenges that keep your mind and body active and fit. That is the true fountain of life, a young mind shaped by change that you set for yourself.
At this point Jennifer was completely on my wavelength on how to live life without fear of labels. I had to leave her at that moment, but I left her with one last piece of wisdom: if you don’t like a label that someone else has given you, make that label work FOR you! Embrace what they place on you so they are surprised when you prove them wrong. There is no better feeling than breaking free of the shackles that society has placed on you, and breaking free from the cocoon of labels into the better creature you will be, absolved of caring what others think of you. Being unique is the best thing you can be, don’t be ashamed of that fact.
Let me give you a different scenario that explains what swaggerims is all about by asking you a simple question. Say you were walking down the street, minding your own business and a woman sees you, starts cursing at you or perhaps just comes and swings an unexpected blow or a slap in your face, what would you do? Most would instantaneously react by slapping back or fighting and causing a scene. It’s a natural human reaction / impulse you might say. Perhaps it is, for those who lack proper knowledge or understanding. Let’s replay what exactly happened but this time let me give you an insight, the woman who is about to slap you or insult you is suffering from schizophrenia caused from witnessing her whole family, including an eight month old baby murdered execution style. I can bet you one thing: knowing this information prior to her attacking or assaulting you would absolutely change your reaction, and if not, well, there is no help for you.
Your instantaneous impulse of fighting back may turn to compassion and love with the proper understanding of that situation. You may even justify the fact that, if she could go through all that, you would gladly take a slap for her and even ask her what you could do to help her situation. Depending on who you are, understanding of the situation changes your reaction and may also change how you see this woman. You see, it’s all about understanding. Understanding of self, understanding of the situation, understanding of others even when the information may be lacking. People only act based on given situation they are caught up in. Your understanding and style of handling the situation is what Swaggerism is all about. So, the next time you get caught up in any given situation, before you react, think again. Swaggerism is about understanding, and then dealing with action and reactions. These three important components may help you not put a label on those you meet. One of my favorite authors, Stephen R. Covey who wrote the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says it very concisely in habit number 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be Understood.”
I am extremely happy to say that I recently came across Jennifer, years after that initial discussion, and she was in the best place in life she has ever been. She has been promoted, due to no longer fearing the labels of working too hard, she is dressing the way she wants, which is very striking, and she held her head far higher than the last time I saw her. It was like an altogether different outlook had permeated her mindset. She was incredibly thankful when we met again, and begged me to bring my thoughts and concepts to the world at large, saying there is so much in the world that can be changed with Swaggerism. At first I was adamant in declining, I am simply a messenger, but she insisted, leading me to create a book based on my concepts. Jennifer has read that book and has shared with me that if she had this book when she was 10 years younger she absolutely would have been a billionaire by now. If you too would like to know more about Swaggerism, please seek out my upcoming book, Swaggerism: My Religion. It goes over everything you have seen here, more stories, and things you could never even imagine. Please visit http://www.swaggerism.org and be prepared to be transformed, or at the very least, inspired.
With Sincerity at heart,
Redeemer Resk ‘Que
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