In business, whenever you get that slight twinge of conscience, it pays to heed it.
Have you ever listened to some expert share their opinion and felt like — really? That’s the way it has to be done? And when we’re new to something, we’re vulnerable. We think, hey, they’re the expert. They’re the one making all this money they say they’re making. What do I know? They must be right.
I’m not necessarily talking about anything nefarious or unethical. Just different techniques that have worked for the expert but may not be right for you.
I spent a decade in executive search. Other recruiters had different ideas about how to contact potential candidates. Worked for them, never felt right for me.
In entrepreneurship, marketing experts might teach you to use a fear-based approach. Tell the client exactly how their life will be terrible if they don’t buy your product. The scary part? It’s been very, very effective. But is spreading more fear on a planet traumatized on a near-daily basis the legacy you want to leave?
Plus, things are changing. People are starving for authenticity. The successful business of the not-too-distant future will be much more inner-directed.
It’s great to invest in learning from others so we aren’t always reinventing the wheel. We may work with guides who challenge us to evolve. But having the confidence to adopt what’s right for us and reject the rest is critical. It’s the Walt Whitman quote, “Dismiss whatever insults your own soul.”
Now, it’s important to note when you’re starting a new job or business everything is a little awkward. You have to be honest with yourself: are you uncomfortable about putting yourself out there on social media because it will mean being seen and styling yourself as an expert? Or do you genuinely believe your client doesn’t hang out there and it’s smarter to spend your time elsewhere? Do you really disagree with the morality of a business development approach, or are you just scared of failing?
Sometimes you won’t know it isn’t a fit until you try it. You will make mistakes, often publicly. And you’ll emerge with a better idea of what you’re all about and the approaches that are aligned, real, and authentic to you. So go easy on yourself, and just keep moving forward.
You don’t want to watch someone else succeed by being truly herself and regret you didn’t do the same. Resist shortcuts that feel off to you. Chop wood, carry water. Consistently do the things you know are right and feel good about the legacy you’re leaving.
Mary Margaret Skelly develops leaders who want to work like human beings. She works with entrepreneurs, creatives, and corporate professionals alike to uncover more joy and purpose in their working lives. Previously, Mary Margaret recruited CEOs and other C-level executives to Fortune 500 companies and advised leadership teams within Google, where she was recruited to help build out the executive search function. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, or for daily career wisdom, follow her on the ’gram @marymargaretskelly.