I don't like being told what to do.
I have had this challenge since birth. This small piece of stubborn DNA and genetic messaging has been transferred down my family tree, limb to limb and leaf to leaf, through the strong women in my past. This tiny piece of coding has landed me in hot water in personal situations more times than I can count.
But with age and time comes wisdom, hindsight and self discovery. I learned WHY I do not like to be told what to do. I discovered I need a minute to figure out if what "they" are saying resonates with how I feel about said directive. I like to think about what feels right to me.
This piece of "do-my-own-thing" DNA has led me professionally as well. It taught me that I would have to be my own boss and that I would have to put in long hours to do the work on my terms. It re-assured me that it had my back when I had to figure out how to be an entrepreneur step-by-step, from start-up to seasoned business owner. It reminded me to seek out mentors as my business began to grow and it forced me to realize that my idea of success would look different from "their" version.
Here is what I learned from my years of rule breaking and how that has applied to my design business:
KNOW THE RULES
I feel strongly that you should know the rules of your desired industry before you can break them. Maybe that is the Gen X in me, but some rules are concrete and don't like to be messed with. Here are some ways to learn those hard and fast rules in your field.
• Do the work. Spend time working in your desired field failing and working your way up.
• Study and learn. If you can not get into your desired field of employment, study and learn about it on the side. Make yourself an expert through research.
• Participate in forums with other respected leaders.
• Find a mentor in your field and ask questions.
• Attend conferences to learn from industry leaders what worked for them and what did not work for them.
BREAK THE RULES
And then you learn what rules just beg to be crushed!
• In-authentic and fraudy. Do what feels true to yourself.
• Time wasters. Focus on only what will help you achieve your own success.
• Narrow down suggestions. There are MANY how-to and tips out there (like this post!) You do not need to do all of them. Focus only on the ones that resonate with you.
• Just to get numbers. Don't do something to get more followers and metrics. FRAUDY. Create something from your own real life experience with the intention to help others. Who the heck cares about the numbers! The intention counts.
MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN RULES
Determine what your rules are going to be, what feels right to you and how you would like to run your business. Example, staging Instagram shots feels fraudy to me so I don't do it.
• Define your "success." Figure out if money is your success measuring stick. Other business successes could be work life balance, never working under a boss full time again, having time to travel, being able to pay all the bills. My business goal is freedom to adventure for my personal life and to design and encourage women to go after their dreams in my professional life. I am extremely successful at both. Money is not my main focus.
• Do some self discovery. You have to know what you stand for in order to determine if something feels in-authentic to you. Spend some time getting to know yourself. Personality tests, journaling, asking questions to people who know you best. Listen to your gut!
•Work hard. Period. Work freakin' hard! There is no magic formula to be successful.
• Blaze your own trail. Most of the entrepreneurs and people we respect probably blazed their own trail. Hello, Steve Jobs, Oprah, Sara Blakely, Brené Brown, Richard Branson, Teddy Roosevelt. Etc. The list goes on an on.
• Do what feels authentic to you. Don't worry what everyone is else is doing and if they are doing it better. Being unique means standing out from the pack and that can feel lonely at times, but in the end, being true to yourself will always feel best!
• Be willing to fail. In my experience, failures teach you more than successes. From failures comes evolution and growth. Always try to learn from every experience, both positive and negative.
• Have fun! Don't forget to enjoy the ride! Make sure you build in time for fun and self reflection. Look at how far you have come! Taking the step to try takes bravery and courage! Make sure you give yourself credit for that.
Listen, I'm not advising you to rob a bank and drive 200mph in a getaway car waving your bra out the window in rule breaking defiance. I am telling you that when it comes to your business and your personal life, you know what's best for you. You know what feels right and what doesn't. Focus on what feels authentic to you. Blaze your own trail and learn as you go and crush some damn rules!