“I think there is what you have and what you do with what you have, and that’s the only way.“ —Sophia Amoruso
If we spend our time trying to create something that pleases others with no regard for what pleases us, the result will be both uninteresting to others and displeasing to ourselves. This is neither desirable nor sustainable. A better strategy is to do that which pleases us, within the boundaries of what we are both good at and capable of, in a unique way that attracts just enough people to keep that which we have created going.
By being true to ourselves, in a way that is attractive to the right few people, we develop an audience based on authenticity and integrity, instead of one based on salesmanship and charisma. For obvious reasons, the audience we inspire must still be large enough to be viable, but a viable audience grown organically is stronger, over time, than a larger audience grown artificially. Organic growth begins by doing that which we are good at in a way that is useful to others, not by doing that which we believe others want us to do.
Part of what makes this difficult and frightening is that, if we are doing something new and unique, there is no guarantee that it will work, but if we do only that which others say they want, we are guaranteed to do nothing new or unique. It is better to fail being ourselves, professionally and expertly, than to succeed trying to be someone else in order to please the crowd. The crowd is never pleased for long anyway, so, as long as we are doing something we believe in, at least one person will be happy.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.
Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted.
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