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Just Do It!


Yesterday, I spoke with friends about the difference between self-employed and employed people. It wasn’t just that self-employed – as a popular pun in German says – are working themselves and constantly. It turned out that the central difference is the attitude, especially the attitude towards feedback. A frequent employee-attitude expresses itself in a subtle avoidance of feedback. Psychologists might say that it is a trained fear of whatever based on negative experience in the past.

A closer look reveals often that the candidate is doing it in the here and now, he is creating notions of the expected feedback that are not funny, such as a hypothetical derogative remark of a manager or colleague.

At the same time, one of the most interesting insights is that courage is – contrary to popular understanding – not the opposite of fear, because courage means to overcome fear, so the presence of fear is kind of a prerequisite for courage. What would we do if we were not afraid at all?

Little children are wonderful examples: Children for most part don’t fear at all, they do dream, and children simply try it out. The other day, a friend wrote to me totally enthusiastic about his daughter: “Yesterday, she climbed a 2m high ladder… being 16 months old!”

Could the opposite of fear be to just do it?

Perhaps the children are not right about their dreams, because they don’t know what is going to happen. For sure, we are wrong about our notions most of the time, because we, too, don’t know what is going to happen. But children’s dreams are more useful: They drive us to just to it, towards motivation, maybe even something like playfulness.

What happens once we – like kids – replace our notions of feedback by our dreams? In the very very very best case: how great could the result be? We should dare have passionate dreams again, shouldn’t we?

So this is the perceived difference between employed and self-employed: the one created a notion that made him hesitate, the other has a dream that makes him just do it. The advantage of just doing it is that it creates feedback quickly, and self-employed people learn from feedback. They create hundreds of ideas, try them out and continue developing the one that works best.

Because as “From Stanford to Start-Up” concludes:

  • A day on the job beats a year in the library
  • You’re never ready – and that’s the fun part

And that applies to the ideas of self-employed as well as to the ideas of employees.

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