Lesson: “Otherness” is bad for your business. [Tweet this]

otherness is bad for business

Did you watch the show Lost?  I was totally hooked, mostly because I’m a gal who really appreciates contrast.  The delicate balance of the story-line between science and spirituality, the intensely loyal yet fragile relationships of the characters, the juxtaposition of the island’s beauty and terror…Oh man.

And another contrast: the one between the survivors and “The Others.”

It’s not surprising that, when first discovered, these two tribes were at war.  They didn’t know each other and they each had their livelihood to protect. Whatever brought them to the island, they could not let outside compromise their mission.

I feel like there is a lot of this in business too.  Especially when we run our company mostly alone, and even more so when we run it online.  If you think about it, everybody is an “other.”

We have vast amounts of competition because it’s pretty damn easy to start a business.  Many of us have hundreds of friends we’ve never met, thousands of followers (which is both creepy and condescending if you really think about it).  We get excited about strangers buying our ebook or handmade wares, influencers promoting our blog post, and sometimes we work with clients for months before ever knowing what their voice sounds like.

For a long time, I’ve been a proponent of online business, because it opens up an entirely new world of opportunity.  Very few professions existed before that gave us so much freedom. I love it, and am grateful for it.

But with this opportunity we have also put ourselves inside a box, literally.  And the vantage point from inside that box creates a barrier between you & your business, and everyone else.

From this perspective, who you are becomes relative to how others view you. You open certain windows to give them a glimpse at what you want them to see, and then hide the rest.

We are all doing this.  On our websites, in blog posts and email campaigns.  With videos and tweets and photos, we create the vignettes we want people to witness when they peer inside our world.

To a certain extent, this is necessary.  We can’t show everything. But the isolation that comes from these carefully curated boxes can fuel fear and judgment, which only furthers “otherness.”

The reality is, the “others” don’t exist.  There is only you, me, and billions of people like you and me.  We’re all trying to find the right balance between life and work, ideas and action, altruism and profit, science and spirituality.  We do some of these things well, and others terribly.

That’s why I think collaboration is so important.

What you can and cannot do is a perfect match with what many people cannot and can do.  The fact that we flounder about; trying to be better at things we are bad at, while flaunting what we are good at, is simply a waste.  Not just of our time, but a waste of opportunity to really make the impact we want to make on the world.

My idea around collaboration goes something like, “Let’s push our boxes together and cut out a few extra doors.”  I think better ideas happen when people come together, and more action is taken when the workload is shared.

Do you ever feel isolated in your business?  Do you feel like collaboration is something you do well, or need to work on?  Or maybe you feel like you’re better off without the feedback from others…share in the comments below.