From jumping out of airplanes to zip-lining through a jungle, Luvvie Ajayi Jones has become an expert at challenging fear — but not all of her daring adventures involve leaving the ground.
Ajayi Jones says she was initially afraid to give a 2017 Ted Talk, “Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable,” which is now closing in on six million views. She’s clearly gotten over that fear, and she’s here to help the rest of us do the same with her new book: “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual.”
So what exactly is a professional troublemaker?
“They’re disruptors for good,” Ajayi Jones told “Chicago Tonight: Black Voices.” “They’re the people who are in the meeting who say, ‘You know, what have we thought about this campaign there?’ The family member who points out the bad joke your uncle makes. They’re the friend who’s telling you, ‘Let’s have a tough conversation.’ I think professional troublemakers are the people who are elevating every room that they’re in and we need them to exist. I want to affirm them. And if you are not one, I want to convince you to become one.”
Among her tips for acting boldly through fear is a recommendation for developing a personal version of a Yoruba greeting called an oriki, what Ajayi Jones calls a “standing ovation for your spirit.”
“I think oftentimes the thing that makes us feel that we are too much, we’re too different, is the thing we have to double down on because it’s something that is a competitive advantage,” Ajayi Jones said. “It is something that I think everybody needs because we are in this world being told all the time that were not enough or that we’re too something, or that we need to change something about ourselves. Oriki is exactly opposite. It’s saying that you are amazing just like you are today.”