I think I’ve always been an Outlier. It’s not something I’ve really ever classified, but it’s something I’ve lived all my life. In high school, I was an Outlier. I went to class, kind of. I graduated, somehow. My friends partied and drank but they knew I didn’t. I spent a lot of time as the designated driver. I tried college, I tried working for a degree and it just wasn’t me. Instead I settled into a career I thrived in but after many years in logistics, I decided I was tired of working for someone else and left to do my own thing. I haven’t looked back.
Though being an Outlier is something I’ve just always been, it’s never been anything I sought to define. I just am. But over the years, I’ve come to find there are others like me and from what I can see, we all have a few things in common.
1. We just do it…whatever “it” is.
Many entrepreneurs spend countless hours fussing over the ‘final’ details of their business plan and never end up launching the actual business. Either that or their delay costs them their market when someone else beats them to the punch. Starting a business is unnerving. You’re not 100 percent sure you’re a 100 percent right even 10 percent of the time. That’s just how it is. And if you keep waiting to be 100 percent sure 100 percent of the time, you’ll never get there. You have to just do it…whatever “it” is. Start the business. Unveil the product. Launch the website. Quit waiting, quit testing, quit stressing and just do it.
2. We don’t always ask for permission.
And that’s not because we’re some rogue out to prove a point. We just know that sometimes asking for permission isn’t in our best interest. Being an Outlier isn’t always popular. Whether it’s in your personal views and beliefs, in your business plan, or in your approach to life, choosing to take a different path doesn’t always win you votes. If you ask for permission, you might get shot down—especially if you ask the wrong people. If you wait for someone to tell you ‘yes,’ you run the chance of getting discouraged by all the ‘no’s’ before you get there. Sometimes you need to write your own ticket and give yourself permission to follow your instincts.
3. We never wait for things to fall in our laps.
Because if we do, we could be waiting a long time. Life doesn’t just hand you a golden ticket. There’s always the story of the actor who hit it big on his first role or the writer who made the Best Seller list with their first book but most of the time, you’ve got to sweat for it. You’ve got to work and you’ve got to work hard. People that don’t wait for things to fall in their laps are the people who solve problems, invent new products, improve technology, and start life-changing businesses. Even if it doesn’t change the lives of everyone in the world, it’s changed your life and the lives of those around you. We know that, so we don’t wait for it to happen. We make it happen.
4. We stand tall even when we stand alone.
Being an Outlier means that eight times out of ten, you’re doing something differently from the majority of the population. That means that eight times out of ten, you have a really good chance of standing alone. It can be hard sometimes to look behind you and realize that you’re the only one out there on the path, but that’s when you square your shoulders and keep walking. Because you’re creating the path. Someone has to forge it before others can follow. Standing alone sometimes comes with the territory and even if it’s never completely comfortable, we completely own it.
5. We follow our guts and not the crowd.
Because a lot of times the crowd doesn’t know where they’re going; they’re just following the next guy. Not to bring up the proverbial “if your friends jumped off a bridge” question but seriously, it applies. Why use a product that’s only partially effective just because it’s the only thing out there? Why not invent a better one yourself? Why do business the same way everyone else is if you just get lost in the herd? Why not do it differently and make yourself stand out? Sometimes following your gut means you’re going to go in the complete opposite direction of everyone else. It means that you pass everyone on your way and see the looks they give you as you go. But you still do it. Because Outliers have a greater vision and it isn’t focused on where the crowd is headed.
6. If we can’t find it, we build it.
We don’t wait for someone else to do it, we don’t sit around and wish for a better mousetrap, we get out there and make one ourselves. We aren’t afraid of the challenge, we don’t mind venturing into the unknown as we start a new process or set up a new business. We’re used to being the only ones out there drafting the blueprint. It kind of goes along with not ever waiting for something to fall into our laps. We’re not built that way. We’re too driven, too stubborn, too motivated, and frankly, probably too confident in our own abilities to let someone else build it first.
7. We embrace and then leverage life’s challenges.
Sometimes life sucks. Right? I’ll just say it. Sometimes we get thrown a major curve ball and we find ourselves in a bad situation. Who we are isn’t defined by those situations, it’s defined by how we handle them. In every mistake there’s a lesson learned. With every failure comes greater knowledge. Does it hurt to fail? Does it hurt to miss the pitch? Absolutely. Do we give up and crawl away after it happens. Never. We take those situations and we leverage them for our good. We learn from them, we reevaluate, we restructure, and then we go at it again. Because a life without challenges is a life without progress.
Outliers come in all shapes and colors. We come in all ethnicities, are seen in all countries, and are found in all walks of life. But we’re all driven by the same goals. We know what it means to live the Outlier Life—and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ever is a serial entrepreneur and is currently the Founder and CEO of Outlier, an online publication, physical co-working space, and conference series geared toward the dynamic community of start-ups and entrepreneurs.
A true outlier, Ever has always enjoyed taking “the road less traveled” in every aspect of his life. When he’s not busy with Outlier, Ever spends time with his wife and children traveling, playing, and looking forward to raising the next generation of entrepreneurs.