I joke that I am the most conventional unconventional guy you might ever meet, but it is true in a way.
When we think of unconventional we often think about specific things. Going off to live on a commune might be a big one, having tattoos and piercing might be smaller “bucking the system” type ideas.
Anyone who knows me at all will know I am not the extreme kind of unconventional, and I expect you will be somewhere on the spectrum too.
So what makes me a “rule-breaker” and why might you consider breaking some rules yourself?
The Rules Have Changed
I don’t need to tell you that some of the rules we were raised on have changed.
For example “Work hard. Get a steady job. Be loyal to your employer and they will give you a job for life and treat you well in return”.
Yeah, that one didn’t work out so well did it?
I landed my first dream job, working for an internet consultancy with some pretty sweet clients, in 1998. In late 1999 after my daughter was born and fighting for her life they made me redundant. You can imagine how hard it is going for interviews out of telephone contact and knocking on doors applying for jobs knowing that while you are away your child might die.
Yes, I did as I was told, I worked hard, was loyal, and still didn’t last more than a year.
So that is one rule we are often raised to believe that just is no longer true, if it ever was. There is no such thing as job security apart from what you create for yourself.
Sky Diving Without a Parachute
I am pretty risk-averse, and I am not a natural entrepreneur by any means. Unlike some of my friends, I did not sell baseball cards in the playground, and without the experience I mention above and others like it, I would probably never have started my own business.
Oh, I had side “hobby” businesses occasionally through my career, but I made the real leap in 2005. I quit my (pretty good) job working for a marketing and advertising agency and struck out into the world of self employment and business ownership.
Not so unconventional because many people do that every day. But pretty weird for me to do because business was not in my DNA. Both my parents worked for the public sector. In fact my brother, my wife and I all started out our careers working for the UK National Health Service – you can’t get much less of an entrepreneurial family.
But I quit, and I quit with no plan-B and less than no money in the bank. I felt the company was shrinking so much that there was a good chance I might not have a job to go to again, I was not enjoying the work I was doing, and an opportunity to work with a cool startup came along that would just about fund our bills for a while.
(Don’t do what I did – make sure you have at least a few months salary in the bank before you give up your day job)
Thankfully I was pretty well established by the time the startup collapsed, but then and now a lot of people think I was crazy to make that change, and probably still think I am crazy.
Let You Be Your Guide
Sometimes you just have to learn the rules and then break them.
I am not saying all rules are made to be broken, but some rules don’t apply to your specific circumstances.
Very often we regret the opportunities we DON’T take more than the mistakes we make.
Work out what is best for you and your situation, and put your all into it.
(Mitigating the risk with a plan-b is a smart idea too).
What rules have you broken? Are you glad you did it? Please share in the comments …