I recently went to look for something on my Airbnb app, and was stopped by a screen that asked me to agree to their nondiscrimination policy before it would let me continue.  It didn’t display the full policy, but gave the barest of statement about it, and that’s what I had to agree with. The thing was, I didn’t agree with it, as written. And because I didn’t, I couldn’t click the “agree” button. When I indicated that, I was taken to a screen that offered to cancel my account. So I let it.

The thing is, I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of their policy, the whole of which you can read here.

Good stuff, huh? ♥

But agreements online (which are legally binding, btw) aren’t made about the spirit of things. They’re made about the “letter” of things. And language matters in agreements. I couldn’t agree because of the way they wrote what they wanted me to agree to. So I walked away from Airbnb.

Be real. Have your life (and work) speak for you. Spend time with those who see you, love what they see, and give you high fives about it. And let the rest go; they aren't meant for you.

Am I sad? Kind of. I’d never actually stayed in an Airbnb (I tend to prefer big hotels with loads of amenities that leave me feeling pampered), but I liked looking at properties on the Airbnb app and knowing there were options when traveling. And I’m truly ok with that. I continue to have mad respect for what the company has created, and love that they have a zero-tolerance nondiscrimination policy.

And all of that is simply a backdrop to what I want to share today.

Here are two important things that you can learn from my walking away from Airbnb:

  1. Never agree to something you disagree with, even if it means you must walk away and lose out on something that, at least one some level, you value. This may be the most important of the two, because doing what’s right for yourself is so very foundational, and lying, in any context is an assault on your soul. Never turn your back on your self and your integrity.
  2. All businesses have rights to their policies, and to requiring whatever they want from people who use their services. And so do you for your business.

When you create a business that’s built on a foundation underpinned with your deepest values and devoid of things that assault your soul, there will always be people who aren’t the right fit for you and what you do (as is the case of Airbnb and me). That doesn’t make you wrong, or bad, or not valuable, nor does it do any of that for the people on the other side of the equation. It just means that who you are, what you do, and how you do it are meant for other folks.

It’s good, actually, to have points where clients come face-to-face with ways to disqualify themselves; the more who do, the fewer you need to spend any of your precious marketing time having conversations with. And that’s a win, for sure. Seeing that from a different angle, when you’re crystal clear about the people you serve easily and naturally, the more of them you’ll start to see, and you’ll see far fewer of the others. It’s pretty amazing how that works.

Need a real-life example? We have one of those indoor trampoline places a couple of miles from home. When they opened, I saw the announcement, disqualified myself as a customer, and haven’t thought about them again until just this minute. I’m not right for them, or they for me. I probably drive right by their location five times each week and I can’t even tell you the last time I even noticed them. For me, they may as well not exist. And they don’t care, because they have plenty of customers who crave what they offer. I’m not meant for them any more than I’m meant for Airbnb.

So let your freak-flag fly! Do things your way. Stand up and stand out in ways that are important to you—as Airbnb is doing. Be you in the best ways possible and shine that into the world through your business. This is not about creating a strategy to impress and attract certain people while making you unpopular with others. It’s about being real and letting your life (and work!) speak for you in front of the people meant for you. Notice those who stop, give you a high five, and tell you what they love about what they know of you. Be impressive to them; they’re the only ones who matter. Let the rest go.

Got it? Good. Now go be you in bigger ways and see who shows up. I have a feeling it’s going to be really great. :)