Why Freelancers and Business Executives Are Afraid to Be Original — and How We Can Help Each Other

Jessica Swanda
6 min readApr 10, 2019

If I asked whether you want to blend in with everyone else in your industry or stand out, you would probably say the latter. I know I want to be different than the billion other copywriters and content strategists out there.

Lots of us want to stand out from the crowd, but not all of us are willing to make it happen. Because being original — disrupting the status quo and doing something different — is hard.

Blending in and doing things the way everyone else is doing them is much easier. It also seems safer. And for the short term, it may well be. But in the long-term, blending in could prove far riskier than disrupting the status quo.

Ed Catmull, co-founder and President of the animation studio Pixar, helped pioneer an entirely new field of animation. Before Catmull, all animated movies used hand-drawn animation. Then he introduced computer animation as a viable alternative. This new animation style, combined with his team’s talent for good storytelling and their unwavering commitment to excellence, forever changed the animation landscape.

Catmull shares just how hard it was to create completely original movies in his book Creativity, Inc. He devotes an entire chapter to the brainstorming new ideas and then protecting those infant ideas, in all their unproven and potentially flawed glory. In this chapter, he says:

Part of our job is to protect the new from people who don’t understand that in order for greatness to emerge, there must be a phase of not-so-greatness.

The system is tilted to favor the incumbent. The challenger needs support to find its footing.

While there are benefits to learning from what’s worked before and using proven strategies, there’s also benefits to experimenting and trying new approaches.

For your brand to innovate and stay miles ahead of the competition, you MUST be willing to stray from the safety net of what’s worked before and try new ideas. This is true in product development, in marketing, in customer service, and in all branches of your brand.

Past success can make us complacent. We think that we’ve got it figured out and can…

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Jessica Swanda

Freelance writer. Travels the USA full time with her husband. Writes about travel, faith, books, and business. More about me: https://proofisinthewriting.com/