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6 Nov 2009 / Julie

choices (or being true to your colors)

We’re finally painting our house. It’s only been almost a year living with the previous owners color. I say color because it was clearly a “we need a blank slate to sell this house, let’s paint the whole thing peach” decision covering up whatever dark colors they had in there before.

I have a tenancy towards jewel tones and bright, happy colors. The first interior designer we hired didn’t get this. She was trying to steer us towards a house decor and layout that wasn’t at all us. I don’t care what’s “good design” or “appropriate”, i care what makes me happy.

Luckily, the painting service we decided to go with works with a consultant that came to the house yesterday to help us with colors. She was fantastic, energetic, and actually took the time to get to know what we liked before helping us pick colors.

After we had picked the 7 colors that would make up our kitchen, foyer, living/dining room, master bath and the master bedroom, i started having second thoughts. but it wasn’t until prompting that i realized WHY i was having second thoughts.

Looking at the color cards spread out on the kitchen table, i knew there would be no mistaking this house for anyone else’s but mine. So what’s the problem? The problem was that i let other people into my head. What would people think? “Amusement park house” came to my mind.

Having just read Hugh MacLeod’s book, Ignore Everybody, i was very cognizant of the fact that as soon as you let someone into your head, as soon as you start letting other people’s judgments affect you and as soon as you start doing your thing for other people, it’s tainted. You’re no longer doing it for yourself. It’s no longer yours.

i was nervous about the colors i picked because i have never seen an adult’s house… well, anyone’s… with colors like these. I want my house to make me happy but i don’t want to be criticized on my choices (who does, really). but then it hit me. who cares? it’s my house! and it’s my house for a reason. I get to decide what happens in it and to it. (well, *we* do, but still). As soon as i got back into my own head, i knew the colors i picked were fantastic and would make me happy. Sold.

A lot has been in my head around this area lately. This area of doing what makes you happy… or knowing what direction your business is going in and being able to make the decisions to keep it flourishing despite the naysayers or unwellwishers.

Jack Dorsey, when he spoke at TCNJ on Wednesday, spoke to this a little too- that you have to be a good editor. You have to know when something isn’t right for you, your business, or your product. You have to be able to edit out the people, ideas, concepts, and pathways that aren’t true to you and what you’re trying to do. Along the same lines though, you have to also be able to edit yourself and know when to say “when” on something that just isn’t going to work as you’d hoped. (Expectations can really limit you and you have to watch out for it).

On the other side of being in control of your destiny is being a sheep, a lemming, and going along with whoever is the loudest talker…

This morning on the way into work this morning i was checking out a new radio station format, mostly hiphop and dance hits, which this morning i was digging in my happy-and-at-peace-with-my-color-decisions mental place.

…until i heard Rihanna’s new song, Russian Roulette on a new radio station. The beat and melody is infectious but the lyrics are disturbing. the song is about, you guessed it, Russian roulette. The “lethal game of chance” that i always thought was just a myth. I mean, who would actually be stupid enough to “play” this “game”? Anyone not paying attention to what *they* really want instead of focusing on the “others.”

But, in the song, Rihanna has moments of clarity.. but not enough… she “is terrified but [she's] not leaving / Know[ing] that [she] must must pass this test .” That terror is her body telling her that she’s doing something wrong. That something isn’t right. And if she was able to step back mentally for a moment she’d know that.

The lyrics go on to say “He says close your eyes / Sometimes it helps / And then I get a scary thought / That he’s here means he’s never lost.” Clearly she’s never seen War Games, the 1983 movie with a very young Matthew Broderick, because if she had, she’d know that “the only winning move is not to play.” To my mind this guy knows that you have to do for you, not others. I betcha he’s never played… because he knows its dumb. (but clearly, not smart enough to NOT exploit other people).

Equally disturbing are the lines “As my life flashes before my eyes / I’m wondering will I ever see another sunrise? / So many won’t get the chance to say goodbye / But it’s too late too pick up the value of my life.”

“It’s never too late” comes to mind here. The lesson for me, is that even if you’re ideas are tainted by other people’s critiques or flashy objects, you can always correct your path. No matter where you’re headed, there are usually about a million different points at which you can turn around or switch directions. In life, in business, it doesn’t matter. You just have to be smart enough to know when to change and get back to YOUR BASICS. And sometimes you need to be okay with scrapping everything completely and say, “you know what? this isn’t right. let’s do something else.”

Especially when your life is involved. wtf, Rihanna? Way to add another bad influence for people into the world. I’m continually reminded that there’s people out there who will do anything they’ve been told is cool and think anything they’ve been told is right. And there’s always people out there to steer people wrong, either on purpose or by accident (accident meaning they themselves are deluded).

Pay attention to what *you* want… what’s best for your business… etc. If you’re not sure what it is, sit still and breathe. The answers will come. Just pay attention to what feels right to you. And if all else fails, ask around, do your research, and then sit again until things come. :-)

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