The Upside

I Quit, But You Shouldn’t. Here’s Why.

I can’t walk by a musical instrument without needing to touch it, play it, experiment on it, make some kind of sounds out of it. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a compulsion, but it’s pretty close. Here’s why:

I can play any song on just about any instrument, as long as I’ve heard the song at least once. 

I haven’t thought much about this over the years because, quite honestly, it’s a useless skill, especially as an adult. I feel like a jack of all trades, master of nothing. 

But I was reminded of how cool this party trick is when I was picking up my son from his friend’s house and I caught a glimpse of their baby grand piano sitting pretty by a bay window. I asked, “Can I play it?” 

30 minutes later, my audience of two 11-year-olds was throwing out names of all sorts of songs, trying to stump me (they couldn’t). 

As I was driving my son home, I sat in the car thinking about why I stopped taking piano lessons, why I quit the school orchestra, why I stopped learning the guitar and why I didn’t pursue drums any further than the basics…

I realized that it was because I felt like if I couldn’t be the best, then it wasn’t worth pursuing. 

I see this type of perfectionism a lot in consultants. Tell me if any of this hits a bit too close to home: 

  • You don’t post weekly content on LinkedIn because you’re not sure if it’s going to be any good or you think your audience is too small.
  • You play smaller than your potential because you’re afraid of failure.
  • You don’t reach out for 1:1 coffee chats with folks because deep down you think they don’t really want to talk to you. 
  • You lower your rates because you fear that clients won’t think you’re worth more.
  • You compare yourself to others in your space who “look” like they’re crushing it, then beat yourself up over not being as successful as them.

Your business is your instrument. 

  • Play it loud.
  • Practice daily.
  • Play it the best that you can because your best is enough.

No matter where you are on the success, experience or skill spectrum, there are clients who are a perfect fit for you and excited to work with you.

My talent ended up being my downfall because it was a roadblock to learning how to read music. But instead of giving it all up because I couldn’t be traditionally successful, I wish I had found a different path to pursue my passion. 

Find your unique path, own it and don’t give up. You’ve got this!

Erin Halper

About the Author

Erin Halper is the founder and CEO of The Upside and the leading authority on independent consulting. Since launching The Upside in 2017, Erin has helped thousands of professionals transition from corporate life into consulting to achieve flexibility, autonomy, and a renewed sense of purpose in their careers.

Erin has been a frequent speaker at Columbia, NYU, Harvard, and Brown and has been featured as a leading future of work expert on dozens of podcasts as well as in Forbes, Business Insider, Nasdaq, Crunchbase and many more.

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