This week, one of the authors whose books encouraged my love for writing would have celebrated his 99th birthday. That author is Roald Dahl, the Cardiff-born wordsmith who produced such best-loved children’s classics as The Twits, The BFG and George’s Marvellous Medicine.
His legacy goes far beyond that of a wonderful author who has sold more than 100 million books worldwide. His funny, whimsical style of writing has turned many of his words into legacies, giving us mantras to live by and, indeed, to utilize when you start your own business.
If you follow what Mr Dahl teaches us about the world, you can make your business exactly what you want it to be – a brand that is open, honest and unlike anything else out there.
Face the Fear
“Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death. They wouldn’t be exciting if they didn’t.”
(Danny the Champion of the World)
One of the biggest problems people face when going it on their own is fear. Yet, so many high achievers are those people that defied the status quo. It’s not just Roald Dahl’s characters that face up to their fears; it’s the author too. While children’s books before him tended to speak to their young audience with a rose-tinted view of the world, the author ripped that notion apart.
His books speak to children with total honesty and borderline bluntness. Take this quote from Matilda. “Parents never underestimated the abilities of their own children. Sometimes it was well nigh impossible for a teacher to convince the proud father or mother that their beloved offspring was a complete nitwit.”
He speaks to his young audience as if they are grown-ups, as if they are fully equipped to take on the world and understand it. He made them into beings old enough to be told the truth about life and through this vision he introduced a whole new aspect into children’s fiction – and children’s reality. Take inspiration from his attitude – always trust your instincts and face the fear.
Take a Break
“A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest man.” (Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator)
Any business owner will know that it doesn’t always pay to be serious. Indeed, sometimes being too focused can leave you with tunnel vision and let some of the best flashes of inspiration pass you by.
Designing a successful brand inevitably involves a lot of hard work. In order for your work ethic to be the most efficient, effective and inspired it can be, give your mind a break every now and then. The greatest creative visions often come to us on our downtime. (That’s why it always pays to leave a notepad and pen beside your bed to jot down those middle-of-the-night strokes of genius).
Many of the world’s greatest success stories started from an idea that was dismissed out of hand in the first instance. Mankind didn’t even believe the earth travelled around the sun (instead of vice versa) until many years after the suggestion. Roald Dahl sums this notion up perfectly.
“The matter with human beans … is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.” (The BFG)
Thinking big is a very ambitious thing to do and many people are afraid to do it. This is why so many of the world’s greatest inventions, including novels, theories and pop culture classics were initially rejected. In business, thinking big is essential so don’t let anyone dismiss your ambitions and always stay true to your ideas.
Focus on the Positives
“Don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.” (Matilda)
The power of positive thinking should never be underestimated. There are always going to be some sticky issues when you have your own business but if you stay focused and keep reminding yourself why it is so fabulous to have your own company and make your mark in the business landscape, this style of thinking will work wonders.
Keep it Realistic
When you are starting your own business and building your vision, don’t create an illusion. Be real.
“When writing about oneself, one must strive to be truthful. Truth is more important than modesty.” (Boy: Tales of Childhood)
Every business will offer its own unique services based around the expertise of its founders. Be confident in your abilities and don’t try to dilute something fantastic by adding something mediocre to the mix. In other words, if you are a fantastic designer but can’t write for toffee, don’t sweat it. Focus on the reality of the expertise you can offer and the strength behind it, and your business will naturally become irresistible.
Hold on to your Dreams
There’s a definite theme of dreams coming true in Roald Dahl’s books; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a fair example of this and there’s still a small part of me that believes there is a real chocolate factory like that out there. With this in mind when it comes to business, don’t set yourself limits. Always be ambitious and don’t let any dream, however outlandish, be forgotten.
“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog.” (Matilda)
It is our differences and unique qualities that we can translate into a powerful business model and a force to be reckoned with. As Dahl himself said: “Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.”