Whether you’re in business, or you are the business, you’re going to have to do something nobody else does: namely, be willing to take risks on a higher level. Carve out your niche, lead the competition, whatever, but you can’t expect to outshine anyone if you’re doing exactly what they do.
This involves more than a little risk. One example: most inhabitants of G+ in the last days of the beta and the first days of public availability were people I already communicated with elsewhere, so I took a risk and began posting. After a few weeks of positive responses I got my first negative feedback: some guy who rudely suggested a light-hearted post wasn’t appropriate for the entire audience that, he was certain, shared his tech-hardened heart. I took another, bigger risk and sarcastically responded that in an effort to avoid offending anyone, I’d better go hide under a rock. He back-pedaled and meekly (but still, somehow condescendingly) commented that it was a new forum and we were all learning. True. But I saw no reason to do it his way. That’s what the circles are for, buddy.
There aren’t warning signs if you’re the first to venture into uncharted territory. Maybe not everyone will welcome you with open arms. Maybe you’ll offend people with your originality and hesitation to conform. But you never know what you’ll find out there. Pirates weren’t the first people to invent boats and set sail, risking life and limb, but it was a pirate who developed a ship-mounted catapult (John Crabbe), mapped a bunch of South America (Abraham Blauvelt), and used a wooden peg leg and encouraged the development of better prosthetics (Cornelius Jol).
Every business venture is a risk. You’re probably not a pirate, but your potential reward is still something to treasure. If you take little risks, you get little rewards. If you want the big time, you have to broaden those horizons and dare to do things differently. Risk level: Pirate. When you take that kind of risk, you usually do it alone. But more often than not, you find your own way to success. There’s no rule that you have to share the map. (And in fact, it would be useless, because each person has to find his or her own success.) But it’s within the Code to encourage others to find it for themselves.
Seriously. Go. Get out there. Take a chance. Do something different. Make your own map. Succeed.
Just, before you go, please take a moment to let me know whether this inspired you to step outside your comfort zone, softened your heart toward pirates, or maybe completely changed your perceptions about Carl Sandburg. All writers appreciate feedback – your comments, shares, and likes may as well be gold and jewels for me.