The odd one out. How not belonging can liberate you as a business owner

And why sticking to your values will attract like-minded souls

When everyone goes left, I go right. I don’t follow the masses, never have done. If people tell me that something has to be done in a certain way, I question it. When people put restrictions on me, I rebel. Freedom is my everything, and my creative mind leads the way. I choose uniqueness over acceptable. I don’t follow trends, I have never been a groupie, I do not idolise anyone. Most people want to fit in with what is socially acceptable, are afraid to stand out and be ridiculed. I am very comfortable with being unusual.

I have never given it much thought until now, as it is not something I daily study. It is who I am. But I do know that there are more beautiful, weird and unique people amongst my readers and followers, who may need some encouragement to ‘come out’ and feel supported in their weirdness. Today I give you full permission to flaunt it.

I have always felt a bit different, even as a kid. But in a likeable way, I was never bullied. I was OK with being myself. I was the “creative one”, the kid who loved drawing. I went to a tiny Dutch school in the province of Drenthe, back in the 1980s, and had a good time, generally. But there were no kids like me in the small class I was in. I played with them, but never felt I belonged. In a strange way, I kind of enjoyed that feeling of being a loner.

Even though I was just as provincial as the rest of them, with parents who had been born within an hour’s drive from where we lived, I knew the world was bigger, even at the age of 8.

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on

My parents were not particularly conventional either, I must admit. Despite chosing ‘safe’ careers as public service workers, they had the courage to drive a 2CV to Moscow in the 1970s, in the middle of the Cold War. And while all other 1980s kids spent their summer locally, visiting fun fairs and playing football, my parents took me and my sister around Scandinavia, sleeping in tents in the wilderness, playing in streams, and spotting beavers while taking a canoe across the lake late at night. “This is freedom”, my dad would say, sniffing the crisp air of the Swedish forest.

As an adolescent, I briefly went through a ‘teenage angst’ phase of wanting to fit in and wearing what was seen as cool (I BEGGED for those Levi’s 501 denims, I refused to accept any other type of jeans – were you like that too?). It wasn’t long lived, though. At 15, I decided to become “alternative”. I started dressing like a hippie, wore purple flares, tie-die tees, and Doc Martens (but only after the hype had gone, and the trendy people had stopped wearing them). I pierced my own ears (ouch), used mascara to create black streaks in my hair (sticky), and got a boyfriend who liked walking barefoot and talk politics. The girls in my class all cried when boy band Take That fell apart. I just looked at them in amazement, like a visitor in a zoo.

Not belonging but having plenty of friends

I love my own company, but am a very social person at the same time. I get on with most people. I have never been an outcast, black sheep, or socially awkward person. I use my sense of humour to connect with people, and I am curious to know what moves them. I love talking to people from all walks of life.

As a teenager, I used to enjoy provoking the really square, conservative boys in my class with questions about life, and how they saw the world, getting into very funny conversations. I would take the mick out of them, tease them, and we enjoyed each other’s company because we could laugh at each other’s differences. I didn’t belong to any social group, but I was accepted by all. I’d like to think that that is still the case.

The thought of working for a boss, and starting some sort of office career, frightened me as a student. I felt a knot in my stomach by the time my university course came to an end, and I had to seriously consider my future. The idea of being trapped in a 9-5 job, five days a week horrified me from day one. Of course, being so young, and not having the experience, nor the knowledge to jump into entrepreneurship right away, I ended up working for an employer. But I like variety, and never stayed in the same role for years.

Photo by Mati Mango on

Self-enquiry and Enneagram numbers

My own coach asked me last week what Enneagram number I am. I had no idea what that meant. A funny question, and not necessarily anything to do with growing your business either. But curious as I am, I did the test, and I am a type 7, with ‘wing’ type 8 (number 8 being present, but not dominant). What does this mean? In brief: “The enthusiastic challenger. Full of plans, seeing life as one great adventure, always up for something new. Unwilling to be controlled, energetic, multi-talented, creative and entrepreneurial, running away from negative feelings and dark emotions. Master of her own fate…” I thought it was pretty spot on. You can do yours here. What do you think, accurate?

So why could finding out your Enneagram number, or similar, help you in your business? Running a business is extremely personal. Everything you offer, and put out, has your name on it, and comes from your mind. Whatever you create, it carries your past, your story, your thoughts, your experience and your view on things. This is why it is so important not to try and copy somebody else’s way of doing business. You can learn from others, but you have to stay true to your own values. Nevermind what others may tell you. Your business is none of their business. Literally. Study yourself, find out why you do things a certain way. Getting to know yourself inside out really helps you in growing your business.

When did you ever need approval to be yourself?

When starting out as entrepreneurs, we are all over the place. We gather information, look for help, feel overwhelmed by the amount of information, and oftentimes drift away from who we are as a person, and what drove us to create our business in the first place. We start doing what others do, because that seems to work for them, only to find out that we don’t get the same results at all. It’s all to do with how you show up, and showing up as you, 100%. If you have been feeling unique, an outsider, and a little different from anyone else, then why suddenly try to be a copy-cat, as a business? Where has that rebel gone?

Photo by Pixabay on

You are likely trying to market your business in a ‘safe way’, because you are feeling somewhat wobbly, and are looking for approval and encouragement from the outside world, not wanting to alienate anyone, and not quite knowing what client to aim for. But when in your life did you ever look for approval from the outside world? You managed fine before. Why now?

The feeling of not belonging, but being comfortably different, and accepting this as your strength, can truly liberate you as a person and as a business. How? By embodying your true free spirit, and vibrating this in all you do, you will not only feel aligned and joyful (because it’s really you!), but you will attract like-minded people and clients who get you. You no longer have to pretend you are someone you are not, just because you think your clients will be put off. Choose your clients like you would choose your friends. Who do you want to hang out with?

If clients are disapproving of who you are in essence, would you want to work with them? How would you be able to help and serve people differently and better, if you started showing up 100% as you, with confidence, and all your quirks, unique views and weirdness?

Entrepreneurship is a journey, but so is life. Speaking your truth, listening to your heart, and loving yourself for who you really are, is something worth aiming for. Your business is more than a job, it is your creation. You have full permission to make it as weird and wonderful as you like. Be bold, not bland. You were never born to be a sheep, just grazing in a field with all the others. You are a wild lion, a beautiful peacock, or a mountain goat climbing to great heights.

Explore what makes you different, and share these values with your audience, whether in your marketing, in your personal encounters, or in your offers. People look for inspirational and original leaders, not boring copy-cats. Have faith. Be bold. You are on the right path.

If this resonated with you, you can work 1-to-1 with me as a coach, and we can build that weird business of yours together! Book a free strategy call here.

creative business coach

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