This past week, I’ve been re-reading Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and contemplating why I’m so drawn to Thoreau’s message of non-conformity. It all began to make sense to me when I got this Copyblogger article by Sonia Simone in my email last Thursday.
The post basically said that in order to be a successful entrepreneur you have to be a little nuts. You have to be willing to step outside the realm of what others, particularly your “normal” friends and family, consider to be right for you. Taking the plunge and trying to create a great business that supports your lifestyle is risky, and it’s hard to conform to what the herd is doing and take risks at the same time.
Sonia’s article was a big deal for me; I had a pretty strong emotional reaction to it. You see, I’ve been struggling for the past several years to create what I consider to be my dream business, and I haven’t had the kind of success I’ve wanted so far. As you can imagine, that’s been pretty frustrating. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what it is that I’m doing wrong and why things aren’t working the way I think they should be.
As I was reading the article, I realized what I’ve been doing wrong: I’ve been trying to build my business based on other people’s ideas of what was “normal”. I’ve been taking the advice of well-meaning friends and family and putting it into practice in my business. I’ve been obsessed with the idea of “credibility” and whether or not I have it. I’ve worried about what other people might be think of the things I write here and elsewhere.
And all the while I’ve been suppressing my inner punk-rocker.
Now I’m not saying that I suddenly feel the urge to go out and get a mohawk (or even a faux-hawk) and pierce my body in weird places; I’m still pretty conservative when it comes to my appearance. I even wear a tie to work (which fact makes me a bit of a non-conformist, I know, but in a way I’m comfortable with). What it means is that I’ve got a rebel inside that needs to be allowed to come out and play. The rebel is the part of me with all the pent-up creativity and drive waiting to be expressed. I’ve seen glimpses of his genius when I’m desperate and don’t know what to do; it’s at time like those that I let him out to save the day. What I need, though, is to let him out on a full-time basis.
This is tough for me. For the past two decades, I’ve become a master of keeping the rebel under lock and key. I see now the damage that’s been doing to my business life; I’ve been stifling the part of me that has the best ability to get things done.
So I guess it’s time to get out of my own way and give the rebel free-reign to get things done. I’m sure there are going to be some bumps in the road ahead, but I’m excited to see where this new leader takes me.
What parts of your personality have you been suppressing in an effort to appear “normal” to the people around you? Do you see where that might be holding you back from achieving greatness? If so, it might be time to let that cat out of the bag.
What’s the worst that could happen?