I talk with Simon Höfer about stepping out of our comfort zones, the not-so-straightforwardness of choosing happiness over negativity, and what it means to just be yourself.

Simon Höfer
Simon Höfer

Simon’s energy is tricky to describe. Perhaps the best way to describe it is in the form of a recipe:

Take one handful of spontaneous joy, a generous portion of raw creativity, and a delicate serving of sensitive curiosity and compassionate caring. (I’m not really sure what sort of recipe this is. It’s more of a list of things which describe Simon’s energy.)

Working and living in Germany, Simon earns a living as an illustrator. He lives a humble yet action-packed life which includes (but is not limited to) rock climbing, art-battles and backflips. But unlike an artistically-gifted mountain climbing hedgehog, he’s also published multiple illustrated books which are packed with his flowing creativity, including his most notable book to date – Jackson Norby – a collaborative project between himself and the imagination of Lenn – a four year old child.

Why I wanted to talk with Simon.
Being someone who has struggled to express myself freely, Simon’s authentically flowing self-expression instantly captured my attention.

I wanted to know: had he always busted such hustling tunes? (translation: had he always been living so authentically?) or had this been something he’d worked at and developed over time? How did he come to be the way he was? What was his childhood like? And how had that influenced how he interacts with himself and the world around him now?

I sat down with Simon and we had a big chat over Skype. This interview really is action packed with gold nuggets of wisdom about childhood, personal growth and being yourself, including sprinklings of spontaneous fun.

Show Highlights and Takeaways

  • Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone
    • You have to be interested in your own progress – to want to evolve.
    • Personal growth is an individual process. You can’t compare yourself to someone else’s progress.
    • Your comfort zone is your comfort zone. It’s unique and individual to you. It can’t be compared to what someone else is or isn’t comfortable with. It’s like comparing apples to albino guinea pigs of the arctic – they just aren’t comparable.
    • You need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone if you’re interested in your self-development and progression.
    • Your mind and body will do everything it can to stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone.
    • It will always feel ‘bad, wrong, scary’ to step out of your comfort zone.
    • Stepping out of our comfort zone often provides us with the most useful experiences we can use for growth.
    • “The real sugary things will wait behind the rainbow, my friend.”–Simon
  • Taking Breaks
    • Working on yourself is hard work.
    • It’s not possible to work on yourself 24-7. We all need to give ourselves breaks.
    • Without taking breaks we burn out and aren’t able to enjoy the things we’ve learned from our previous successes and developments.
    • You can enjoy taking breaks more when you know you’re committed to self-progress, and know you’ve been actively working on yourself.
    • When we give ourselves the time to take a break, we are consciously loving ourselves and cultivating our self-relationship. With a loving self-relationship it’s easier to go out into the world and explore new and challenging situations and continue our journey of personal growth.
  • Choosing Happiness and Joy vs Choosing Sadness and Depression
    • You always have a choice about what you focus your energy on.
    • But it’s not as simple as ‘Just choose happiness!’
    • Often what ‘Gurus’ and spiritual teachers are talking about is the end goal – “no ego” “pure joy all the time” – and not the gradual process of personal growth and exploration which we experience each step of the way.
  • Being Yourself
    • If you’re feeling nervous then say, “Yes! I’m feeling nervous.” If you’re feeling scared then say, “Yep! I’m feeling scared.”
    • By acknowledging how we feel and expressing that, we are opening ourselves to being ourselves, and that’s easier than denying how we feel and trying to act in another way.
    • You don’t need to be anyone else but yourself. Work with what you already have within you because that’s what you’ve got.
    • People react positively to people who are just being themselves.

Jackson Norby

“Okay, guys. These pics are from my children’s book, which I made from the stories which four year old Lenn told me about his imaginary friend, Jackson Norby.”–Simon

When I first saw Jackson Norby I couldn’t get over the child-like energy that was flowing out of every page. Simon’s creativity and imagination fused with the imaginative adventure-stories of a four year old is quite a delightful thing indeed!

If you can read German, or you’d like to learn, or you’re just looking for a tidy bundle of extrafancy pictures ⇒ grab yourself a copy of Jackson Norby.

More from Simon Höfer, and the Places You Can Find Him on the Internet

RootsenSneeky.com – “A page with my works and photos and videos (some Day). I am building and filling it with content right now, motivated by the interview post and the thought that there has to be something like a personal page with my stuff.”

Kotburschi.com “The page of the “Kotburschi Kollektiv”, a collective of me and my friends. (We do art together, events like festivals or live-art battles, videos and other stuff).”

Vollbartbaby.de “Still worthful for german listeners!”

A Selection of Artworks from Simon

Additional Tasty Swizzles Courtesy of Master Swizzle (Simon)

Talking about the Moon Trilogy

For the moon-drama-interested listeners. “A really thrilling story about talking about the moon. It’s really dramatic and good.”

Part I – Dawn

Part II – Eclipse

Part III – Down


Closing Note from Benjamin

Simon’s freedom of expression has been a big reminder for me to just be me. To let go of all the ways I think I should be, say, do and think. To let go of the ‘rules’ and concepts of right and wrong and just let it flow.

I’ve realised people don’t care as much as I think they do about how silly or not silly I’m being. And I’ve learned from Simon and those around him that it’s possible to inspire others to express themselves freely by sharing yourself freely with them.

Now that’s a beautiful thing.