Outside of the 9-5, the possibilities are endless. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure approach to your professional contribution.
And the best part?
All those “weaknesses” in the Matrix are actually your strengths once you’re out of it. But it takes some time to unfuck your brain from the way you’ve been socialized.
Here’s the deal: the key when you’re building your own thing is to get away from the pull to conform … to override that drive to search for formulas and structure outside yourself. To look for quick fixes or to copy what others are doing as a shortcut to success.
This does not work.
(Aside: there’s a massive difference between copying a business formula and building a business based on tried + true principles that’s still unique to you. More on that in a sec.)
The starting point of actively deprogramming your brain is to start leveraging your “weaknesses,” as perceived by the system.
This non-exhaustive list of “weaknesses” includes:
As a general rule, creativity and offering outside-the-box solutions are not welcome inside the Matrix. We’ve all put forward a great idea to a boss who said thanks-but-no-thanks. But outside the Matrix, creativity is a muthafreaking superpower extraordinaire. Everything that is awesome in the world was birthed from a creative mind. Time to leave the black-and-white behind. We’re in kaleidoscope-land now.
Same as above, noticing opportunities and gaps that can be filled is often pooh-poohed in the Matrix. I’ve never experienced so much resistance to following a thread of opportunity or filling in a problem area than I did when I worked for companies back in my 20s and early 30s. I always wanted to yell, “Why won’t you just let me make this better?!”
Outside the Matrix? FUCKING SUPERPOWER. Noticing opportunities is everything. Noticing opportunities and unusual synchronicities is why I have a flourishing polar expedition company. Noticing opportunities is why Apple products exist. Do not underestimate this. They tried to take this skill away from you — “It’s too risky!” “Nobody likes someone who thinks they know better!” — and you are going to goddamn well take it back, sister.
Inside the Matrix, they don’t want you messing around with different ideas and theories. They want the shortest line from A to B. Productivity and profit, baby! If there’s an established way, you’re expected to follow it. We’re not in any way primed to try different things and indeed, it gives most people anxiety: 95% of people cringe at the idea of split testing their email newsletter headline. “Can’t I just use one thing that works?” Sorry, Alan, but no. You must test. You must become comfortable with exploration again.
Another general rule: the 9-5 favours conformity. You don’t even have to be an obvious weirdo to stand out and be othered. It’s often just the small things…the way you have too many ideas or laugh too much or wear clothes/hairstyles that your manager wants you to tone down. God forbid we bring our true selves to our work. Perish the thought of creativity or charisma sneaking its way into the GAP-clad office.
Out here in the limitless sandbox, we want you to bring it. Your true self – idiosyncrasies and all – are your superpower. We love seeing full-spectrum humans, and not only that…when you show us who you really are, you give Your People the chance to find you. Personality = points of resonance for those who need what you’re dishing out.
But don’t get too stressed if you feel like you’ve lost some of yourself along the way.