As it turns out, I’m not actually ambidextrous, as I had long believed.
Ambidextrous, as defined by Dictionary.com, means: “able to use both hands equally well.”
That’s not me.
I don’t use them “equally well” – I use different hands (mostly my own) for different things, a tendency which, strictly speaking, makes me “Cross-Dominant.”
(Note to Mom: Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with religion.)
So, for example, I’m a lefty when it comes to throwing a Frisbee or football, playing basketball, holding a lacrosse stick, drinking coffee or speaking on the phone.
On the other hand (HAHA!!!), I’m a righty when it comes to eating, writing, shaving, bowling, throwing a baseball, brushing my teeth and, were I invited to, polishing a hippo.
All in all, I consider my cross-dominance to be an advantage.
First, because it seems to me that as long as you have two hands, you may as well maximize body performance and efficiency by distributing the workload evenly.
Second, because it forces me to think.
When I try a new activity for the first time, and because I’m not sure if I’ll be a righty or a lefty in a given situation, I’m forced to ignore convention and just figure things out for myself.
It may take me a little longer to get the hang of it, but the extra time and effort ensures that I’ve fit the situation to my particular skills and orientation. In the end, I’m always better off than if I had simply done it the right (or left) way.
Likewise, as solo professionals, we have (nearly) unlimited freedom to decide how we do what we do. The problem though, is that most of us, in most situations, simply follow the herd:
… The life coach in the process of building a web site visits the sites of other coaches, to “see how you’re supposed to do it.”
… The consultant dipping her toe into social media, first checks out how other consultants tweet, post, link and perform similarly social-media-related verbs.
… The aspiring financial planner reads the right publications, uses the right lingo and even buys the right car, all in the hope of knowing what he’s supposed to know and looking the way he’s supposed to look.
Following the pack is a strong, reasonable, natural tendency and one that I don’t claim to be immune to either. It took me over a year as a solo to realize that I didn’t have to be in my office 8 – 6 everyday, and another year after that before I noticed that my company doesn’t actually have a dress code.
But it’s a problem, nonetheless.
Because when we do things based on “how it’s done,” we give up the opportunity to fit our business lives to the way we prefer to work, think, talk and behave.
We have plenty of freedom, but if we don’t use it, we may as well have jobs (sorry, didn’t mean to scare you).
So here’s what I recommend: Spend a little less time figuring out how, and a little more time asking why:
- Don’t worry about how to publish a newsletter until you can explain why you need one.
- Don’t spend a year sweating over the writing of a book without first thinking about where it fits in your overall marketing plan.
- Don’t build a web site, design a logo, craft a tag line, hire an assistant, enroll in a class, attend a trade show or spend time and/or money learning a new technology until you have a pretty good inkling as to why you need these things in the first place.
Here’s the bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with learning from the example and experience of others. But all too often, we just blindly follow the lead of those who’ve come before.
Take it from a cross-dominant solo professional and do as much of your own trail-blazing as possible. I’ll leave it to you to decide which hand you swing your machete with.