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The Secret to Success: Be Yourself

Posted by on Apr 13, 2012 | 12 Comments

Before reading this post, read Jesse Scott’s post here:

Our world is an interesting place.  the socio-econo-political landscape is changing rapidly.  Some fundamental ideas that guided generations before us no longer apply.

Back in the Dark Ages (as I like to call them), people would train for a good job by doing well in school.  Study hard.  Listen to your teacher.  They would join clubs, run for class officer, and other extracurricular activities to add “resume fillers.”  Graduate at the top of the class.  They would apply to entry-level jobs in a fast-growing sector… maybe a Fortune 500 company.  They’d spend years moving up the corporate ladder until they settled into a VP position with a corner office.  At some point, they would retire and do the things they put off earlier in life.  Then they died.

At some point, American companies realized they could outsource manufacturing.  Most of the manufacturing jobs disappeared.  Those that remained became low-paying jobs with abysmal benefits.

Then the same companies realized they could outsource middle management and other white collar jobs.  Suddenly the desk jockeys found themselves in the same position.

The “American Dream” that so many of us were promised has vanished.  Some people are hip to it.  Some are not.

Jesse is one of the people that sees the change.  He sums up the idea nicely by putting himself out there.  He doesn’t want to work for a company that doesn’t want him.  In the process, he’s attracting like-minded people.  He’s building a platform.  He’s building an army.  He’s forging himself as a leader.  He’s insulating himself from the crumbing world of the Dark Ages.  He’s assuring his own security by cultivating his awesomeness.

Other people don’t see the change.  They still toil away earning degrees or certifications in the hopes of landing that dream job.  They do things like tweaking their resume or trying to find the right “power tie” for that interview in the hopes of standing out from the crowd of job applicants hoping to get one last slice of the American Dream.  They’re playing a game with fewer and fewer winners, and the odds get smaller every day.

As a business owner (yes, BRU is a business), who do you think I’d hire?  Who would create the most impact?  The sheep that are exceptionally well-trained at jumping through hoops?  Or the leader that builds stuff and makes a difference?

Yeah… the choice isn’t too tough.

It’s becoming increasingly important to take Jesse’s approach and avoid the Dark Ages approach.  Still, most people still pick the latter.  The cows are following the rest of the herd, even though it’s obvious the herd is heading to the slaughter house.


It’s actually quite simple- the latter approach is safe.  It feels like it’s a smart move.  Make yourself look good on paper.  Put your head down and work hard.  Rely on someone else to take care of you. It’s nice… until you look up and realize you’re next in line to be slaughtered.

Jesse’s approach feels terrifying.  There’s no apparent security.  There’s no direction.  It’s as if we’re a derailed train.  What becomes apparent over time, however, is Jesse’s approach is about learning.  And growing.  And developing.  And leading.  In short, the very nature of the process makes you an invaluable commodity, especially in a world willed with cattle that are perfectly happy being led to the slaughter house.

The new secret to success isn’t so much a secret as it is a counter-intuitive approach that has been traditionally shunned:


Here are some advantages to this approach:

  • You will bring your best qualities to the table.  When we’re not hiding behind a facade of what we believe others expect, our strengths shine.
  • You will attract like-minded people, including the people that could potentially employ you.  Screw that awesome resume.  Make yourself awesome.  The relevant people will find you.
  • You repel people that don’t “get” you.  This can be as important as the last item.  This is the reason I like to post the occasional inflammatory or offensive comment… if you’re easily offended, I don’t want you in my circle of relevance.
  • You learn.  This approach forces you to do things on your own, which gives you an incredible range of skills.  Since taking this approach myself, I’ve become proficient in writing, publishing, editing, web design, search engine optimization, photography, and videography.  I’ve learned about the fitness industry, shoe industry, and apparel industry.  I’ve learned about business management, marketing, and advertising.  I’ve learned about every conceivable angle of barefoot and minimalist shoe running.  On top of all that, I’ve been able to run in some of the most beautiful trails and mountains in our country.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that I can take care of my family without having to beg someone for a job.
  • Being yourself is a lot more fun.  Any time we try to be someone we’re not, we’re not really living.  That includes our employers, friends, spouses… whatever.  This is a fundamental key to lifelong happiness.

I’ve embraced Jesse’s approach for quite some time now, and love the results.

What do you think?  What can YOU do to let the inner YOU shine more often?



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  1. peter fabok
    April 22, 2012

    “myself” is just the matrix created of perceptions and expectations and is always false and limiting.
    only way to enter the zone of improvement and fulfilled life, is to drop this limiting personality…
    … so, in this sense – “be yourself” means “live your life and forget about who you are”

  2. niki_in_france
    April 17, 2012

    I’m probably going to sound like a total elitist bitch, but in the spirit of being myself…

    I think what happened is that a lot of jobs disappeared that suited people with no actual useful skills, but a college education. People who majored in English or art history and then went on to work in companies as middle management. These types of jobs you do have to act corporate, dress nice, etc. When things got tight these people got fired, because for the buck they just weren’t bring in as much. But I think you totally underestimate the fact that there are shit loads of people who have real hard-to-get skills, that do things that make their companies bags of money. Do you know how to do brain surgery? Fix cars, I mean mountain bikes? Create software? I do, well the last one at least. I am a software developer with advanced degrees in maths and computer science. I wear five fingers to work and make no secret of my wild youth. If they fire me I’ll go work somewhere else. I can have this attitude because I have skills that take natural talent and years and years of very hard work to acquire. And I still spend my own time honing them now.

    Sorry Jason, I LOVE your blog, but it seems like all I hear these days, is just chuck it all in and be yourself on-line the money will come flooding in. Even though that has worked for a few people, it just isn’t generalisable.

    • Jason
      April 17, 2012

      Niki- I don’t do an adequate job of explaining my thoughts on people like you, but I would say you’re in the “living an awesome life” category. You’re not passively relying on the corporate world to support you. You take charge and make things happen. Your attitude makes you incredibly valuable. I think you’re right about some people not bringing in much… which is the exact crowd I commonly reference.

      You’ve given me a great idea for a post, by the way… thank you!

  3. Bare Lee
    April 15, 2012

    Set an office worker free: If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.

  4. Vincent
    April 14, 2012

    Alright, I’m gonna haveto follow this Jessie guy now too. I like reading up about stuff like this. I wound up losing much of my soul being stuck in both a relationship and a job that together drove me to near-psychosis and now I’m looking for a better way. These kind of blogs inspire me to relentlessly allow my passions to guide me and for that I am thankful, because without those I am easily the type of person that could turn destructive.

  5. Matt M
    April 14, 2012

    Like Glenn’s girlfriend, I have similar issues as a teacher, although I think I’m more relaxed about it in most cases. I just make a point to live far enough away from where I teach that I have little chance of running into any of my students or their parents.

    My biggest struggle, actually, is the very point of this post. I can see that things are changing and that “the American Dream” is no longer what we’ve defined it to be. I also agree with what you’re saying, Jason, but I’m not sure how to go about relating this to my students while still maintaining control and interest. I feel that if I encourage my students to do what makes them happy, they will – at their young age – decide to 1) play video games and entertain lofty fantasies of getting rich while doing nothing, or 2) in the least will decide that my elective class isn’t important enough or immediately relevant to continue, and then I lose my job because I don’t have the numbers to support class sections (it’s happening already for next year, I’m dropping down from full time to .8). The main problem is that I love my job. If I didn’t, I’d be planning to move on.

    As much as I like and respect my students, I don’t fully trust them to make the best decisions on their own. Lord knows I didn’t at that age, and I could have benefited from more guidance at times. Always the delicate balance as an educator.

  6. Glenn
    April 13, 2012

    With my girlfriend being a newer teacher, she constantly worries about fitting the proper mold. She shares some of Jesse’s past dilemmas. For example, she always frets when someone has camera around her when she is having a beer. I try to tell her relax, but she lives in fear that if the wrong person (probably a helicopter parent) from school sees one of these pictures, they will make a fuss, bitch to the administration and she will lose her job. The worst part about this is that she is right. But, I try to assure her she shouldn’t let this stop her from enjoying life and its not worth working at an institution that treats its employees in such way. Sadly, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

  7. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    April 13, 2012

    In the words of the great Bill Cosby: “But what if you’re an asshole?”

    • Jesse
      April 14, 2012

      That’s what I just wrote about! Didn’t you see my asshole mustache?

  8. BarefootNick
    April 13, 2012

    Jason, are you secretly making it a point to write polarizing entries?

    Barefoot shoes.
    Women with/without children vs. males.
    Intelligent Design vs. scientific process.
    Leaders vs. sheep.
    Barefoot won’t ever win an ultra.

    • Jason
      April 13, 2012

      I don’t know what you’re talking about, Nick. 🙂

  9. Jesse
    April 13, 2012

    Rule #5: have a successful friend in your corner to promote you without being asked.

    If there’s anything I could add, it would be that “normal” jobs are still viable, and rewarding. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with teaching, nursing, office work, etc. Bringing more of ourselves to the job is what makes it cool and exciting. What I’m saying is that even though being an ultrarunning hobo is awesome and works for you and me, it’s not for everyone. That doesn’t mean we all can’t put our whole selves into what we do.

    Thanks for sharing my post, man. I appreciate it.