I recently saw an interview where the questioner asked, “What do you fear most?” The unexpected and thought-provoking response was “Living a bland life.”
It got me thinking how from the day you’re born, the world tends to knock the edges off you. Your personality. Your aspirations. Your curiosity. Your imagination.
The chipping away starts at school, continues in further education and is finished off at work. Left unchecked, people are moulded into similar shapes and sent down well-trodden paths. In business, ambitious projects, new ideas and innovations get the same treatment with committees, focus groups, risk management and fear of criticism sanitising everything or more typically, killing ideas altogether.
Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office, when interviewed by Harvard Business Review said “I don’t try to please anyone except myself. If people like what I do, fantastic. If they don’t, that’s good, too. If you start trying to water it down or second-guess, you end up with something so safe and homogenized that a lot of people will like it, but they won’t love it.”
Those who don’t consciously forge their path get caught smack bang in the middle of the road. Fortunately for soloists, our choice to go it alone automatically shifts us from the centre.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with living a ‘normal life’ and I am far from a poster boy for wackiness. But my thinking made me realise I don’t want myself, or anyone to reflect on their lives in 2, 5, 10 or 30 years and look back on an unfulfilling life.
To avoid mediocrity, I believe it’s important to:
- Live a conscious life.
- Be yourself.
These imperatives will guide all the decisions you make in your business, your job and your personal life. This manifests in displays of integrity, honesty, humour, admitting failings, accepting responsibility and showing genuine emotion. For big businesses, a lot of this authentic personal expression is either not possible due to the number of people, or it is seen as too risky. As small business owners, we have the chance to bring all these things to life in how we operate every day.
We’ve talked about this a lot recently at Flying Solo HQ. Our biggest fear is mediocrity, becoming ‘just another small business website’ so we work hard to make sure our voice is as authentic as possible, whether we’re talking to clients, one another, or our community.
We’re actively finding new ways to nurture the passion, honesty, humour and dare I say ‘love’ that flows freely between members of the community every day. YOU are Flying Solo’s point of difference.
What can, or does, your business do to banish the bland? And does Flying Solo do enough to stay out of the middle of the road? Share your ideas on mediocrity here.