There have been times in my career where I’ve wished my background, my roots, had been different. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t ashamed of who I was, but had things been different, life might have been easier. As human beings, our natural instinct is to follow the standardised format. Everything informs this; from where you’ve come from, what you’ve studied, your past career moves, everything. This gives everyone a comfort blanket, a reassurance that things should be okay if we don’t stray too far from the path.
But in my experience, I’ve never seen jaw dropping ideas or true creativity come from the mainstream. Far from it. Those with the most twisted, odd, ugly, buckled and far from ‘straight’ roots – seem to be the ones who bring the most colour. I hardly had an ‘odd’ path, but not going to uni and starting work at 18 was not conventional. Working my way through advertising, publishing and dotcom booms, at such a young age – was an experience. Starting a business at 28 and going head to head with tables full of Harvard educated investors/lawyers and MBA’s a plenty – was exciting! Was I set up for all this – NO. Did my roots have the right DNA to create ‘never been seen before’ – YES.
So what does that tell us? For me, the more interesting and challenging life you experience, the more your roots will be able to support heavier weights. The more you pack in, deal with, and overcome – the more you’ll flourish. In order to build a business that’s successful in the long term, needs strong foundations. You need roots, full of colour; that have the ancestors to weather storms and deal with drought. So, if you’re thinking you’re not set up, built for, or ‘created’ to do something – look at where you’ve come from. If you look back, and the road is windy with many ups and downs – I’d say, “that’s a pretty good base”! If you’re too young, too old, not experienced, too experienced to build your dreams – I’d say “that seems interesting”. If your business or idea is a little nuts, never been done before, slightly ‘out there’ – I’d say “tell me more”.
Convention, grey and safe – has never changed the world. So even though I wanted in the past to be different, to fit in more, I’m so bloody glad I didn’t. The fact that I was, and am, exactly me – is something I’m grateful for. It’s allowed and allows for ideas, however grand or nuts they may be, to grow from my colourful roots.
‘Proud of my roots’ Plant pot by Vinegar & Brown Paper