In the past, I have published essays covering the “right to fail” as well as the “freedom to suffer.” Today, I am thinking about the right to suffer. Most specifically, I am thinking about the freedom to mess up and embarrass yourself.
In general, “being a nobody” can feel like a disadvantage. Especially in the context of business and building companies, it is much easier to access customers and revenues when you are a large corporation with a loyal following base. The same is true with having a very strong personal brand. If you are nameless, no one cares about your work. No one cares about you, really, and it is much harder to get traction.
I have been thinking lots about building “unfair advantages” – things that are monopolistic in nature and no one can compete with. While accessing leverage and scale, is surely one “competitive advantage,” I would also make the argument that being a nobody can be one too!
Big companies and big brands are held to a higher standard. They have less freedom to fail. Anything they publish is judged more heavily than it would be by the average person. Given this extreme environment, they cannot afford to freely experiment. This is inefficient and an opportunity for people who are judged less carefully to capitalize and test out strange ideas.
The freedom to fail, though nuance, is a massive competitive edge for you when you are small and a nobody.
I am small and a nobody. I only become a somebody by doing weird things that “current somebodys” cannot compete with. Be wacky. Take chances!
Also published on Medium.