Sometimes when I hear speakers say something, it ignites a fire in my brain. That’s exactly what happened when I watched creativity expert Sir. Ken Robinson’s TED talk. I mean, true he’s been saying the same thing since 2006 (probably since he was born) and true, it’s not a thought I haven’t heard before but it was such a glaring truth for what I see my clients and other businesses around me going through that of course, I had to write about it.
Why Aren’t We Original?
Well according to good old Sir. Ken, we’ve had the creativity and originality beaten and trained out of us by our parents, our educational system and our peers. Correcting what’s outside the norm, making colouring outside the lines a bad thing, punishing unusual thinking have all played a major part in getting us to be the sluggish scaredy-cats that we all are as adults. Now, this is a huge problem for businesses who on the one hand, are trying to solve problems with more creativity and on the other hand are not nurturing out of the norm behaviour. For example, I’ve rarely met an employer who would let you do things like coming to work in your pjs, parking in the front crescent of the building for employees or sleeping on your desk during work hours. I’m just telling you about the fantasies that I’ve had in the past 20 years while I worked for tight-a$$ corporations.
When Are You Wrong In Your Business?
- When you cold call: (You tell yourself that) You’re bothering someone, you’re a nuisance, you’re sales’y (which is so contrary to your personality!) and you could potentially look like a fool if the person on the phone asks you a question you didn’t prep for. So how are you ever going to do or say something original on that call if you’re terrified of all that?
- When you can’t be authentic: Tell people what you really think about your industry or your competitors on your blogs or social media posts? Offend a speaker that you don’t agree with at a conference with your peers? Stand up for a very unpopular opinion as a business? Have divisive or explosive titles to your keynotes or articles? It’s unthinkable isn’t it? Some of my clients won’t even put their own picture on their About page. If you’re afraid that people will think you’re wrong if you tell them what you really thing, then how can you ever hope to be different than what is the expected norm?
- When you can’t say something different In your marketing: You can be risking being wrong when you call yourself a ‘Leadership Coach” because everyone understands what that mean, rather than a “Decision Making Coach” like my client Gina does. You can be a generalist to please and serve everyone instead of a very specific specialist. You can write emails and books about what everyone else is writing about. You can use the same trite ways to describe the pain of your audience that your competitors do. You’re avoiding all this because you could get it all wrong and if you did that, it could go badly. However, without the risk, you’ll never be an original.
- When you give the wrong price: A lot of my clients are afraid of being wrong in their pricing. So what if you don’t know how to do ROI based pricing and closing a sale in one meeting. So what if you did give the wrong price and end up working for practically nothing. You’ll know better the next time and you’ll never make that mistake again. Now on the other hand, if you do give a ‘too high price’, well, I’ve found to my astonishment that there’s no such thing. There are only prospects who don’t have enough urgency. After all, at the tender age of 20, I learned in my Economics class in University that price elasticity is where what people think of what they’re buying meets what they’re willing to pay. The more valuable your brand, the higher they’ll stretch to. Your price is one of the biggest indicators of quality. So go ahead, give a ‘too high price’ and see what happens to perceptions of what you can deliver. Above all that, remember: avoiding mistakes in any area of your business equals killing your originality.
So these are the most common areas I see in my clients when it comes to the fear of being wrong and how it affects their originality. I can’t say this often enough: in marketing, being like everyone else equals death. If you’re not willing to be wrong, you might as well just close your doors and go lie on a beach somewhere. Running your business while living in morbid fear of being wrong means you’ll blend into the vast competitive landscape with hardly a whimper.
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