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When “Staying Inside the Lines” Starts to Hold You Back (And How to Break Free)

T.Harv Eker 12-17

There’s a spirit in our culture that prides itself on individuality and “being you.” That sense of satisfaction that comes with doing something your way and finding success.

Yet, as much as we say we value individuality, how much do we really live by that? How often are our decisions influenced by other people: family, friends, a mate, colleagues, neighbors? How often have you wanted to do something but thought twice about it because you were afraid of what so and so might think?

When you go against the grain, you stand out, and standing out can be nerve-wracking. Why is that?

It starts, like many behaviors, with early conditioning—like staying “inside the lines” in art class. Structure can be good, but if we dared draw outside the lines, watch out! We’d be “corrected” until we developed the habit of staying within artificial boundaries given to us.

That’s just one of many examples of conditioning that ends up placing limits on our creative potential. Those pressures could be cultural (Stay with your group!), economic (Rich people are why we’re poor!) … the list goes on and on. And most people end up living their lives “inside the lines” until it becomes comfortable, familiar and what others have taught as “appropriate”—even though it may not be appropriate for you!

In everyday life, anything or anyone that doesn’t fit the “norm” often pays the price of disapproval or scorn. It’s a strange paradox; it pays to be different—think of somebody like Madonna, who clearly marches to her own beat—but don’t be too different or else you’re weird, or something’s wrong with you.

Most people will do their best to fit into a recognizable and comfortable mold because security is addictive to the ego. As a matter of fact, it’s part of our evolution as people. Being accepted in a group meant survival and safety for our ancestors. And in some ways it still does.

However, at some point we’ve got to tell the ego that it’s okay to step into the unknown and dare to be different. Think of all the people throughout history that, if they hadn’t stepped “outside the lines,” we’d have never evolved as quickly as we did. We’d still think the world was flat, or that the universe revolves around us, or that “normal” people couldn’t do amazing things.

When you stop playing it safe, your spirit is free to grow, expand and create.  Individual, family and social “rules” don’t apply.

It takes guts to be different; to stand out from the crowd; to break free from the “clone drone” society and be a true individual.

When others criticize you for doing something “different” it’s usually because they’re scared. Inside, they’re secretly stoked that you’re breaking free. They’re just frustrated with themselves for lacking the courage to do the same. Be their inspiration!

Your focus for the next 30 days: This month, let go of worrying about what other people think of you. Do something unusual (just remember society does have laws!). Whatever business you are in, figure out a way to do it, package it, or market it differently than everyone else. “Zig” when the masses “zag.” You will not only feel a renewed sense of spirit and energy but will also dramatically increase your income and wealth.

Are you up for it?  Let me know your thoughts and ideas on how you can mix it up and start coloring outside the lines.  What would you do differently?  Can you find the courage? I want to hear from you!


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