You Should Know When to Say No to “You Should”

Picture 1I pride myself on being an “out of the box” thinker. Sometimes this means people see me as a bit odd, or dry, or just plain smart-ass. But one thing I’ve learned in my decades of smart-assery is that it’s stupid to do things just because other people think you should. Especially when it’s your career they’re talking about.

For example, I’ve been told I should go to a breakfast networking event; it’ll be good for my business. I am not a morning person, so partly I’m saying no because I just don’t want to. But I’ve been to events like this before, and it consists of people sitting around awkwardly eating food that isn’t very good, and probably not as much of it as they’d want to because they don’t want others to think they’re pigs and they’re busy smiling awkwardly and having awkward conversation with table mates. And then maybe there’s a keynote speaker on a topic of zero value to me, or to most people in the room. Plus everyone I meet will have absolutely no relevance to my business. (I know… you can’t write anyone off because you never can tell, and that’s very true, but still, odds are against it.) So no, I won’t be going.

Maybe you’ve been told you should get an office outside your home, to be more professional, though you’re quite comfy at your laptop in the kitchen. Or you should try this phone app, you should add this service to your capabilities list, you should put an ad in that directory. You should dress like this, not like that. Or how about “you should never”? You should never do your own bookkeeping, never take out a capital loan, never wear pants to an interview (if you’re a woman, ha ha).

Don’t pay attention. Or, rather, pay attention — listen to what they have to say, but don’t be compelled to follow anyone’s advice. Maybe they’re right, you should. Or shouldn’t. But true success belongs to those who break the rules (wisely), who think independently. It belongs to the woman who wears a red suit to a meeting full of dark clothing, who disdains conventional marketing means and invents his own.

Be brave enough to do your own thing, and everyone will benefit.

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