Here’s the question for those of us in Gen X and up – Do you remember the Burger King commercial? “Have it your way at Burger King now!” I'm sure Gen Y, Millenials and younger have their own version of this, but one thing I'm sure of -- There is no generation where “I did it my way” is not a siren call.
Everyone wants some element of control in their lives. Some of us need it in more places than others. Some of us bristle at authority while others simply know how to work the system and feel in control. Some people are good workers, though, doing what they are told because it’s what they do and they are fine with that. That's great. We need people like that. But I’ll bet you they have their limits too.
The thing is, I left 2016 ready to blaze my own trail at last. Entrepreneurship isn’t new to me, but it was a scary thought because with my puzzle business I had a partner to share the load and to talk excitedly with me about the latest idea. This time, I’m doing this on my own. Don’t get me wrong. I am supported. The family I was born into gets it and encourages me. The family I made is simply focused on own each of their own lives and don’t get in my way because they know how I am; they just aren’t necessarily that way themselves. My friends are achievers in their own right one way or another – at work, in their own businesses, with their families. They are independent and they have ambition. Anyone not like that doesn’t last long in my world. So it’s not like I am in a vacuum. But editors are typically solo freelancers. Sometimes we help each other out. Most times we’re too busy keeping our heads down working. So it’ not like there a ton of them out there in a public way whom I can admire and emulate. And the more I listen to and read motivational books, business books, how-to books, biographies, etc.; the more I listen to podcasts and follow the work of coaches and consultants whose primary focus is entrepreneurs, the clearer one message becomes - listen, learn, study, but take all that and forge your own path because you cannot be the teacher who taught you how. You can only bring your own essence to whatever you are doing and that very thing will take what you learned and shape it to itself so that your efforts are as unique as you are. And that is a good thing.
When you create, part of what you are offering is your take, your vision, your style. a piece of you. It does not matter if you're creating a work of art or writing a book or an article. It doesn't even matter if you are selling a widget someone else made. Look how places you can go to buy something as simple as a pen. But we choose certain retailers because of the experience they offer, maybe the perks, maybe the loyalty pricing, all sorts of reason. Someone envisioned that experience and others liked it enough to patronize, hopefully frequently.
I have heard quite a few times now the concept of there really being no competition in whatever you are doing precisely because no one can do something the way you do it. Doesn't mean ignore what others in your space are doing, but constantly focusing on them is akin to keeping up with the Joneses. It can be madness trying to keep up with the Joneses. You don't even need everything the Joneses need, nor want everything they covet. At some point, you have to just do things the way you need and want to. If no one buys it, there may be something to consider, or maybe you are simply ahead of your time. What does your gut say? Don't ignore it.
Standing out from the maddening crowd doesn't have to be lonely. You are simply following your own heart, creating your own vision, which is there for a reason. Soon enough people will notice and want to be where you are. Soon enough you'll be the focus of that crowd, leading them down that trail your blazed. Ah. I think that sounds marvelous.