Don’t Label Me, Bro…

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Today guest contributor is my friend and founder of Man Vs. Debt, Adam Baker, though most people just know him as straight up Baker. He’s also the creator of  You Vs Debt, a 6-week online course designed to empower your battle against debt.

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I’ve been having a business identity crisis lately.

For the last several years, I’ve been sharing the intimate details of my family’s life and finances on my blog.

What started as an online accountability journal has blossomed into a full-time business with the potential to reach tens of thousands of readers. I’ve been extremely fortunate and undeniably blessed.

But I’m far from perfect, and recently I’ve been terrified.

Terrified of what the next step looks like.

Terrified that the next step will be the one the locks me in.

Over the years, I’ve realized that I can help change people’s lives in a couple different areas.

I can show people how to break free from financial lives that keep them trapped. I can teach people how to sell their crap and eliminate their excess clutter. And I can train people on how to grow online communities to raise awareness for their messages or businesses.

I’ve accomplished the first step many creatives struggle with. I know what specific problems I can solve quickly for people.

I know exactly where and how I can change lives.

But I’m still afraid.

I’ve had a couple book proposals outlined for well over a year. I have the connections, the market, and the ideas. But I’ve not written a single sentence of a single page.

Why?

I’m scared of being pigeon-holed into a specific topic or niche.

I’m scared of writing the personal finance book and being labeled a finance guru.

I’m scared of training people how to spread their messages online and being labeled a sell out.

I’m scared to spend months recording a video course and having people label me a douchey internet marketer.

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But you know what I realized?

Labels suck.

More specifically, spending my time running from hypothetical labels sucks.

I decide what happens next. I decide which labels stick and which don’t.

And until I take action, people wait.

I can change people’s lives, but not while hiding in a dark corner of the room.

Nothing changes… nothing evolves… until I suck it up and ship my best work.

There will always be something to be afraid of. There will always be a label waiting for me.

When they tell the story of my life, I’m not content with being a “good man who worked hard.”

I want to look back at my body of creative work and be proud.

I want to look back and see that I’ve improved the lives of the people I came in contact with.

I want to leave a legacy.

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Like me, you have a choice.

You can choose to wait. Or you can choose to start building.

I’m done stalling. I’m tired of waiting.

I’m ready to put the best of myself out into the world.

Are you?

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Adam Baker is the founder of Man Vs. Debt and the creator of  You Vs Debt, a 6-week online course designed to empower your battle against debt.

 

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20 responses

20 responses to “Don’t Label Me, Bro…”

  1. Wendy Thomas says:

    Adam,

    This is just the message I needed today – funny how that works. As a writer, I pump out the blog posts, the articles, and even other people’s e-copy while my personal project, the one which after publication I could literally die happy, languishes.

    It comes down to – if I want to be a published book writer, then I better write.

    And I want to be a published book writer.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    Wendy

  2. David Lynch says:

    Adam is a few steps ahead of me. After 24 years, my graphic design business has slowed to a trickle, and I find myself facing a crossroads regarding career. He knows what next step he wants to take, and merely has to “teach the butterflies in his stomach to fly in formation” (quote from Rob Gilbert) and move forward.

    Maybe my fear is inhibiting my ability to tell myself what next step I wish to take?

    In any case, I am trying to free myself from such constraints and inhibitions by conducting an experiment – for the next 30 days, my 10-year-old daughter is assigning me daily tasks which I must complete. Today is day 8. If you want to read about it, go to http://richrichardsalmanac.blogspot.com/2011/09/experiment.html

  3. Wow. Thanks Adam. You’ve described the problem I’ve been having EXACTLY! The fear of being painted into a corner has been paralyzing me and keeping me where? In a corner! Your words are a breath of fresh air. I’m starting the week with a new sense of freedom. Thanks again. See ya ’round the internets.

  4. Lisa Hart says:

    Yes.. great post. Short and to the point. And great for Monday morning to be sure!

    When I get stuck, it can be useful to ask myself: What would I have to let go of to [x, y, or z] . . . . write the book, make a particular phone call, draft an article, market myself more fully… etc.

    It works for anything — to actually get at what it’s in the way… and then, of course, it’s up to us what we do about it!

    Here’s to putting the best of ourselves out there!

    Thanks!

    Lisa

  5. Megan Potter says:

    It’s like someone gave a publishing platform to the little voice in my head!

    This: When they tell the story of my life, I’m not content with being a “good man who worked hard.” – reminds me of a speaker I heard YEARS ago whose analogy has been pushing me forward through life ever since. He said, if you want to see the largest collection of art, great novels, amazing music – all you have to do is walk down to your local cemetery. It’s all buried right there with the people who never found the courage to put their masterpiece – their legacy – out into the world.

    That – I’m determined – will not be me. I believe George Bernard Shaw (and surprisingly, the Bible) said something about leaving life throughly used up – completely poured out is the Biblical version – having given his all to life.

    Thanks for reminding me…

    Yours,
    Megan

  6. Patty Holmes says:

    Amen! Thank you. Taking it even one step further, I sometimes find myself unable to take action by just the idea of being ‘judged’ . And yet lableling and judging are how we make sense of the world, so we all do it all the time! So this was a great reminder to embrace it and let ‘er rip!!!

  7. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I have great intentions for my business but I’m afraid to step out onto any one stepping stone because that could mean having to deliver, or worse, lead to serious commitment. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation – time for action.

  8. Why can’t you write a book in a similar theme to this blog and cover all the topics you are interested in and knowledgable about? Isn’t a single themed book more convenient for publishers and book sellers, but not necessarily for readers? And isn’t the notion of specialization becoming a bit outdated?

    I like coming to conversations at the crossroads and not knowing quite what will be there.

  9. Tammy says:

    Adam, this post resonated with me more than any I’ve read in a long time.

    I’m amazed at how many obstacles I put in front of myself that lead me to do nothing. The best situations from my past always start with me jumping into something. It can morph later on, but getting that initial momentum was vital for life-changing actions.

    Thank you for this call to action.

  10. This is a great reminder. I’m not as much afraid of the labels, but apparently there are other things holding me back (or else I’d be creating a lot more now). Like you, I want to help others and leave a legacy. I should really start crawling out of that corner. Thanks.

  11. Adam, you may have moved on in terms of your experiences, however there are many who have just started the journey. You are a success, “word of mouth” says so. All you have to do is live, the book is a journal and probably written already if you look at your blogs. Don’t concern yourself with “people” they are just jealous of your talent. Wake up in the morning and just be! Many blessings!

  12. Jonathan, thanks for sharing… and Baker, YOU SAID IT! Why do we get in our own way when we so clearly can help others on their paths? Getting over ourselves is harder than it sounds, I know. But it just goes to show that Nike really got it right when they said JUST DO IT.

    You remind me of Jonathan’s Make More Bad Stuff post. And you inspire me to slow down my ‘shadow artist’ and call my own work important enough to me to get it out there!!!

    Thanks!
    Kyle Young

  13. Ines Franklin says:

    I completely relate to Baker’s journey. Thank you Baker for your transparency. I hope you are encouraged to find that you are not alone in your struggles.

    We all must reach that moment of crisis before we decide which story we will live in. Do we stay “safe,” or put ourselves out there for the world. It is a sacrificial act. And sacrifices, not matter how small, require commitment. Yet, it is better to be known for one thing that to be known for none. There is no greater legacy than that of a person who gives his/her life out for the benefit of the world. I believe that if we truly understood the joy that awaits us, we would be sacrifice and commit more freely.

  14. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away~

    Life is very short and fragile…and then it’s time to put all of the pieces back into the box. We should live our lives without any regrets…no should haves, could haves, or would haves.

    When we focus on what others may think about us…or how our message may get relegated to a certain box of thought…we lose our freedom of expression and morph into the world of the tyical politician who keeps his finger in the air to discern the direction of the prevailing winds. We play it safe…our journey is calculated…we avoid the roads less traveled and miss out on one incredible journey.

    The potential exists to constantly reinvent yourself when you are willing to walk outside the proverbial box and reach for the stars! Scared? Hell yes, but the ride is priceless…

    Eldridge

  15. Marie-Ora says:

    Was it Dr Wayne Dyer who said ‘what other people think of you is none of your business’?. I had no problem living that way until I started a website, and then I felt nothing short of terror. I kept thinking, why can’t I keep this all anonymous, use ‘we’ all over the site, and maintain my privacy. Because if I crash and burn, no-one will know it’s me. And as you say, I was terrified that I would be pigeon-holed as this one thing – and that counts as much in potential success as it does in potential failure.
    I never wanted what I do to define who I am. I never wanted to have to ‘market’ myself. Yet to get the word out, I have to do that to some extent. I’d rather be sitting in a dark corner writing and studying (honestly), and I was really second guessing my decision to put myself out there until I read your post. It is the right decision, but knowing that, and having taken the first faltering steps have done nothing to abate my fear. I’m doing it anyway, but it is terrifying.
    Great post, and great comments from everyone.

  16. Pamela Slim says:

    Amen little brother.

    When we get too panicked wondering what “They” (whoever “they” are) will think we are a sellout, we just have to think about people who really need our help.

    You can do it! All of it.

  17. Britta says:

    Thanks Jonathan for sharing this. I am at that exact stage in my life you’re describing, Baker. Feeling the need to prioritize and fearing the LABEL stigma in that same matter. But I am tired of waiting and stalling myself. The surprising thing: for some reason I thought I was the only one. Now I see that one of the best and successful people can suffer from the very same thing. That is kinda cool and makes things a lot more bearable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Adam! We will do it – our way!

  18. Executive X says:

    Inspiring stuff! Sometimes people pigeon-hole us and sometimes we pigeon-hole ourselves…

  19. Farnoosh says:

    We ALL have choices, grand, magnificent choices to choose to do this or that, to not do something that we will pay for later or to do it anyway to respond to our own impulses. It is easy for us to know this fact. I believe execution is what kills most of us. I like to think I am in charge of all those impulses, and I refuse to create excuses if I should mess up once in a blue moon.
    Congrats on this great program, Baker.