I have to admit, when I hear “Go your own way” I immediately start singing the Fleetwood Mac song. Not that this post is about being in love with someone who wants to avoid emotional intimacy. No, this post is quite literally about going your own way, or marching to the beat of your own drum, or taking the road less traveled, or any of the other often-quoted idioms we use when describing someone doing their own thing.
What’s interesting about me is even though I LOVE to follow rules (structure! order! routine!), I’m an outlier in many respects. I’ve never intentionally eaten meat in my entire life, I’m highly sensitive to stimuli, and whenever a medication says 3% of people will experience XYZ symptoms, I’m usually in that 3%. However, I’m also a goody two shoes. If a cashier gives me too much change, I will return it. If quiet hours start at 10 p.m., I have my headphones plugged in at 9:59. If there are rules to follow, I’m likely following them.
Both of these dynamics — following rules and being my own person — also play out in business. I want to follow in the footsteps of someone else, to do what they do. If someone tells me I have to do X to be successful, by golly, I’ll do X. I follow their instructions to a T and then much to my dismay, I’ve noticed I fall flat on my face over and over again because what works for other people doesn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong — some things like hard work and consistency are universal and are required for the success of anything, not only business. However, copying the more variable, subjective things, like someone else’s program, or their marketing strategy, do not work for me. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on various courses telling me the best way to do whatever, only to have those courses accomplish exactly zip for me.
I keep thinking about the company behind the game Cards Against Humanity. In 2013, instead of lowering their prices for Black Friday, they raised them by $5 and sales improved!
“Anyone can do a sale for Black Friday, but nobody but us could get away with raising their prices and risking a ton of sales just to make a joke,” Cards Against Humanity co-founder Max Temkin wrote on his blog.
That story has stuck with me for the ensuing seven years because it’s so counter-intuitive. Who would have thought completely going against norms (i.e., having lower prices on Black Friday) would actually generate even more sales?
I realize I’m still a newbie at having my own freelance content writing and ghostwriting business, but there’s something comforting about knowing a person can flout conventional wisdom and still be successful. There’s something comforting about knowing I don’t have to run my business (or my life, for that matter) just like everyone else in order to have the things I crave: financial stability, ease, peace of mind, and purpose. And in fact, the more I go my own way, the more I’m true to myself and what works best for me, the more successful I am. How about that?