If You Want to Succeed, Throw Away all of the Rules

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Article by Wendy McCance

I have done a lot of thinking about rules.  It seems that every article or book I have read recently has had a similar theme.  The people I read about had all lived life their way.  They ignored the rules and made up their own.

I love reading stories about the road that people have taken that led them to their dreams.  People who have been brave in pursuing what they loved and were able to ignore the critics along the way.  Sounds easy, maybe, but I believe that it is one of the hardest things to surpass.  There is doubt, inexperience and fear already churning in a person when they try to go after what they are most passionate about.  It’s easy to look for advice and be swayed to give it all up when you hear negative responses about what you are aiming for.

You look up to someone who has been there and if they say you can’t do what you are trying to pursue, you give up.  Why not?  I mean, they have been down that road and they must know the pitfalls that you are in the process of navigating.  If they say it won’t work, then it surely won’t.  This is the mindset of too many people who have walked away from what could have been their happiest moments in life.

Right now, I am reading Richard Branson’s autobiography titled, Losing My Virginity -  How I survived, had fun, and made a fortune doing business my way.  I’m only a few chapters in, but the story is truly worth the read.  Here is a man who was miserable at school.  He was dyslexic and was failing almost every class he took.  At the same time, he had a spirit for adventure and loved a challenge.  He didn’t follow the tried and true path, but made his own as he grew up.  It was that ability to ignore negative advice and trust in his own vision that made him who he is today.

When I decided that I would become a writer, I did everything wrong (according to all the advice floating around out there).  I have fibromyalgia and couldn’t hold down a traditional job.  It was too difficult to try to navigate around my health problems and be in an office each day for 8 hours or more.  There were times I was in too much pain to sit or to stand.  It was difficult to focus when I was exhausted.  I couldn’t work my issues around a given schedule.  It didn’t matter what job I chose, I was failing miserably at working outside of my home.

I realized that my best chance for success was if I could call the shots.  I needed to set my own hours, decide when to interact with others and honestly I was sick and tired of having someone else decide how much money I would make.  I wanted it all.  The money, a better lifestyle, feeling excited about my work and avoiding one more day of fear associated with how I would manage to conquer another day at the office.

I had gone through months where my soul was battered and bruised.  I felt embarrassed when I couldn’t excel at work in the way I once would have been able to.  I felt the pressure of staying extra hours when my body just couldn’t take it.  It was time to revamp the way I worked and take a giant leap into the unknown.

When I became a full-time writer, I had no savings, no back-up job and no college degree besides an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts.  I didn’t know any writers and had no idea how to get writing assignments.  It was a bold move that I made.  Many would call it foolish.  I called it trying to survive.  I had no other plan in place so if I failed as a writer, I couldn’t even imagine what would have happened.  I didn’t entertain the idea, I just got to work.

Being able to work when I feel good and rest when I need to has been the best thing I could have ever done for myself.  I can work any day or time of the week to accomplish what I have set out to do.  The amazing thing is, it worked!  I love my career, make good money, feel challenged, enjoy the people I work with and have complete control over my future while doing what I love most.

I never followed society’s rules.  I blocked out any negative feedback and just focused on what I needed to learn.  I worked my ass off to achieve what I wanted most.  I have found that (for me) I have made good, solid decisions by researching everything I have questions about and then I pick out what resonates with me and proceed.  It’s staying true to myself that has propelled me to the place I am today.

I had a consultation with a client a few weeks back.  They called me for advice on how to become more marketable and to put a plan in place for their business.  One of the things we talked about was blogging.  This person wanted to build a blog around their writing business, but was continually drawn to speaking about things that would inspire a person to move forward with their life.  The question was if both could be integrated into one blog.  All that negative noise about what the proper way was when setting up a professional blog had them confused.  I thought it was brilliant for them to integrate their professional and personal side.  Personally I have found that when you show your authentic self and truly lay it all out there, people respond well.  There is more trust because they can understand who you are.  They feel closer to you as an individual, and who doesn’t want to work with someone they trust and feel they understand?  It also helps weed out the people who have trouble connecting with your personality which saves a lot of miscommunication and frustration because the personalities don’t mesh well together.

The client I was consulting was excited to know that they could do what they loved most on their blog.  I pointed out that what works well for one person doesn’t always work best for another, but if they could ignore the “rules” and listen to their own heart, what they put together will succeed because it is genuine.

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
Wendy McCance

18 thoughts on “If You Want to Succeed, Throw Away all of the Rules

  1. I love this and think it’s great. I realise that people prefer to see the authentic person, rather than just the business person. I have 4 blogs - http://www.quirkybooks.wordpress.com being my most popular because this one I am completely myself when I write. My blog on my http://www.beatredundancyblues.co.uk site, I am worried about changing and making it less businessy, but I think I might need to make this change to be able to write more content for it and get more engagement. I now have a http://www.youtube/user/quirkybooksTV channel which is toally ad-libbed roving reporter style using my phone. Sometimes I cringe at how unedited and ‘unprofessional’ it is, but it is my authentic quirky self and is an extension of my quirky blog and so far all feedback has been positive.

  2. In 1984, I told friends I was going to shoulder a backpack, and walk alone across 250 miles of pure wilderness in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Several thought I was crazy: a few were convinced I would die. The trek took a full month, and I ran out of food after 19 days. I ate water lily shoots, small fish, a turtle, a couple of large lizards and a few roasted grasshoppers. I lost about a quarter of my body weight, got very strong legs, and learned what I was made of. That trip gave me the confidence to conduct ever more challenging solo expeditions over the last 30 years, and ‘created’ The Remote River Man - arguably the leading explorer of wild, unknown rivers on earth. If I’d listened to the negative noise from others, I never would have gone. But exploring wilderness has been my dream since age 10. I had zero doubts.

    Moral of story: don’t let the world tell you what your limitations are. Find out for yourself. You might learn something amazing….

    Kevin Casey

  3. We are surrounded by so many people that have the “right” way and the rules to follow to achieve what ever. I find articles like this refreshing.

    If we followed every rule that other people say we need to follow we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.

    • Hi Jon, glad you like the article. The ironic thing about my article that I thought of after I wrote it is that by saying don’t follow the rules, I am creating a rule myself. Anyway, bottom line, be true to yourself no matter what. You have to live with yourself everyday so why not make yourself happy. 🙂

  4. Hi Wendy: Your story touched me on man levels. I have fibromyalgia also. I came from an abusive family of origin. A lot of fear and shame held me back from pursuing a career in writing. I wrote my first word at 50 years of age. Like you, I love not having to do what other people want me to do instead of what is good for me. Thanks you for sharing this remarkable story. You’re a good role model for many people.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate the kind words. I am so sorry about the struggles you have faced. You sound like you are quite a strong individual. I am so happy that you have found your way. Wishing you all the best.

  5. Hi Wendy the wonderful person that i consider my conscience. Just when I get a moment to kind of inhale and still working on the exhaling as I listen to my music as I’ve been writing last year when you snagged me. Something that I have been dodging bobbing and weaving from hiding behind my dyslexia.

    However. I will always have gratitude for you and your excellent writing skills as well as experience and most importantly excellent point’s.

    I started out commenting what i thought to be innocently to things that appealed to me in different writing groups that I was in and was chewed up and spat out in one group so badly that I left the group. I didn’t let that stop me as I’m writing and having a blast. Even though my health isn’t improving but getting worse i have soooooo much to write about and share and hopefully help to inspire others to do the same. I have had a few hick up’s however nothing can keep me down with everything that I continue to survive.

    I have made some fantastic connections and thank you for that as well as we have at least 1 if not more in common. reminding me of all of those pesky writer’s who kept suggesting that i write.
    Not just writer’s but many of them writers.

    You always come up with a article that I need to see to give me that nudge that I need.

    Happiest of Thursday’s to you.
    Peace & be as well as you can. when you can and keep that great smile that you have.

    • Hi Jackie, as always, you say something that truly makes my day. Thanks so very much. I am a big believer in the fact that we faced our worst moments right before the brightest moments shine down on us. Sounds like you are about to turn that corner. Can’t wait to see what wonderful things come your way. Take care. 🙂

  6. I agree. Society’s rules are made for non-creative suckers anyway, I feel almost all of the time. Creativity is the key.

    • I was watching a Fleetwood Mac video where Steveie Nicks was thinking about taking piano lessons. She had sort of self-taught herself and could bang out music for her lyrics. The band told her not to take the lessons because then she would have rules which would inevitably stiffle her creativity. That bit of advice still pops up in my head all the time. Creativity really is best when you don’t know “the rules.”

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