You Are Not Exceptional
I’ve got news for you boss. And you may not want to hear it. But here it goes.
You are not exceptional.
Did that hurt a bit? Did it make you think, “oh eff you, you don’t know me.”?
I get it. The truth can hurt. But before you dismiss me as a negative nelly who’s here to rip you down, hear me out.
The best way to break this down for you is with my own story. So here we go…
I’m an experienced entrepreneur. Over the last 14 years, I’ve had multiple businesses that by all counts were successful. I’ve made a solid living and then some through my talents.
And when I look back over what led to success, and what was a colossal waste of time/money/energy, there’s a pattern.
The times where I was at my best, my most clear, my most confident, I was focused on doing the work. On showing up every single day and being consistent. I kept things relatively simple and streamlined.
On the flip side, the times where I’ve struggled, I was investing far far too much time and money into trying to make something work. I was trying to be fancy and in typical rebel/Enneagram 8 style, I had something to prove.
In those times of struggle as a business owner, I was killing myself trying to be the exception. You know, the one in a million that proves the rule.
Here’s what I know.
While I believe there are exceptions, I’ve also learned it’s hard as hell to be one.
Yet, we live in a world that thrives on feeding us a steady diet of stories about the exception.
Just a few of my faves…
💰Going from totally broke to baller boss in less than a year.
✈️ The small girl now living a 7-figure jet set lifestyle.
📈10x-ing your agency/funnel/launch in 90 days.
🍹From cubicle worker to drinking mai tais and working two hours a week.
🤑 Just throwing something up online and waking up to thousands of dollars in sales.
The list goes on an on and on….🙄
These stories set us up to fail. The reality for most of us is that we’re not going to be that story. They’re marketing tropes designed to SELL to us and only tell a fraction of the story.
While I’m all for having faith, it stands to reason that not every one of us can be the first, the only, the trail blazer or the overnight sensation.
It sounds amazing but it’s setting our expectations at a bar that’s nearly impossible to reach. And in this era which glamorizes entrepreneurship, it’s bordering on being downright dangerous and irresponsible.
In short, the odds are NOT in your favor.
Meanwhile, that energy you expend on trying to be exceptional stands in the way of doing the REAL work of growing and running a business.
The quest to be exceptional, it can make us downright mediocre.
We become a jack-of-all trades instead of tapping into the skills, talents and experience that makes us shine. We invest our time and energy into taking things an extra 5% or 10% when there’s zero return on that extra mile. We spend our days distracted and fragmented. We give our money to people who are completely full of it.
The Alternative to Trying to be the Exception
With that tough talk out of the way, let’s talk practically about how I unpacked this realization. (This hasn’t been a fast process, but it’s been entirely worth it!)
I stopped trying to be exceptional and went back to what I know works. To the basics of building and running a business. I invested in building and mastering my processes for finding and closing clients.
I stopped trying to craft the perfect Instagram post or email opt-in to attract followers, and focused on serving clients who were already willing and able to pay me. I invested my energy into delighting them and not making some random Instagram follower or email subscriber in central Michigan happy. (With apologies to my friends in Michigan, but you get my drift.)
I stopped listening to people who have no business running a business and don’t know shit, let alone give a shit about me as a person. I cut the cord on people who make me feel like garbage or like I’m doing it wrong. And I stopped spending my money under the guise of “investing” in my business, when really, I was hoping this would be the thing that would make me exceptional.
The Real Freedom Comes From Not Being Exceptional
My best discovery has been that when you stop trying to be the exception, you stop trying so damn hard.
You realize that it’s not all about you, and you can take a breath.
You have the freedom to figure it out as you go and to not have all the answers.
You can think clearly and not let the constant striving overtake your actual skills and talents.
You don’t have to try so hard to be the best, the smartest, the be all and end all. You can just be.
And for me, that’s meant not trying to live my best life, because who’s to say how you know if it’s your best life anyhow. (Talk about FOMO!)
I’m much, much happier focusing on building a business and a life that’s enough for me.
No more being exceptional.