The Importance of Being You: As An Individual & Entrepreneur
A Bit Socially Subversive
There is a marvelous, if socially subversive, quote by Carl Jung that I could not have embraced until the last few years. But now it resonates because of the powerful learning and discoveries that have come with my experience as an Internet marketer and business coach. Jung states, "anyone who attempts to do both, to adjust to his group and at the same time pursue his individual goal, becomes neurotic."
Being an entrepreneur epitomizes one who pursues his or her individual goals. Someone who strives to achieve their own vision, make their unique contributions and provide products and/or services in which they themselves find real value.
I think it is accurate to say that if I had happened upon this quote five years ago my first reaction would have been a kind of nervous suspicion. I would have felt compelled to refute it. I would have no doubt experienced a vague uneasiness and perhaps even some indefinable guilt. For most of my adult life, while I have been "successful" in the world, I have not wanted to stand out too much. Not wanted to "rock the boat" or have my life be any kind of stumbling block for others. Or to put it another way, I was overly concerned about what other people thought; was focused more on other peoples’ opinions than my own. Was primarily concerned about “adjust(ing) to the group” rather than pursing my own goals. At least it felt that way to me.
Not For Everyone, But Is It For You?
While being an entrepreneur is clearly not for everyone, comes with no guarantees, and carries real significant risks, more and more individuals are finding the experience positively enlivening and life-expanding. There are many questions that need to be asked and answered, and much research and due diligence to perform. But if you are even remotely curious about whether such a venture might be right for you, I urge you to explore the many options and opportunities available to you.
You must have the ability to think independently, to take initiative and be self-motivated. Self-discipline is also crucial. And if you don’t love what you are doing, learning, and pursuing find something else or you will burn out. Passion for what you are doing will get you through the tasks that exhaust rather than enliven you; and persistence will get you over, around or through the obstacles that will confound you as well as call upon your creativity.
Buddha & Business
Attributed to Buddha, it has been said, “Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be truth.” While I believe in the value of my faith tradition and community, and the counsel and wisdom of others, this saying is powerful for giving permission to trust oneself; and it has a strong element of personal accountability, which I prize. Because I am affiliated with a company that provides all of the tools and training necessary for one to succeed, I often use the expression that you can be in business for yourself but not by yourself. I love this approach because it provides the tools without assuming, accepting or usurping responsibility. When coaching team members, I encourage, provide resources and offer direction, but I do not do the work for them. Neither the specific tasks nor the rewards belong to me; they are meant for each individual business owner.
This approach to business, life and way of being in the world is so much more empowering. Because of this, I tend to focus more on mindset and personal growth and development than I do on specific skill-sets. Best practice, culture, and the Internet, are always changing and evolving. There will always be new things to learn and re-learn; and there are endless ways to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to master one’s chosen field; and to learn how to outsource and delegate the rest.
But none of that matters much if you haven’t committed to a mindset that enables you to pursue your own goals and embrace your own vision. Find your passion and your voice, understand the importance of being you, discover your unique gifts and strengths and you will excel. No one else has your combination of qualities, abilities, and vision. And I believe that the world needs to receive what you long to give. Discern what it is that you most want to do, to be and to offer to the world, and then live into that knowing.
While I still deeply value mutual respect, kindness and cooperation, I prize the amount of freedom and autonomy I now enjoy. Even in my former positions of leadership, where I had tremendous support for my management style and significant latitude in my decision-making, I still had to fill out a form to take a two week vacation. Today that seems as inconceivable to me as it is untenable. Having always been comfortable with a lot of responsibility and taking calculated risks, the challenges of being a business owner are a great fit.
There is a creative tension between fitting in and embracing one’s individuality, and finding a healthy balance is part of Adult Living 101. But for some of us there comes a time when we want to strike out on our own and as some have put it, “Fire Our Boss.”
As Andy Andrews, in The Final Summit observes, “Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created in order to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world.”
This is the book I wish I'd read & couldn't find. So I wrote it!
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