Why fitting in should give you the fright of your life
Ah, success. Craved by so many, yet achieved by so few. This ephemeral and excruciatingly ill-defined state is all the rage these days – and if you want it, there’s one thing you should avoid at all cost: fitting in.
The virtues of fitting in
There’s one good thing to be said about fitting in: in modern society, rare is the occasion where unremarkability does not equal security. And it’s so easy, too – not to mention comfortable. Humans, after all, are social animals, most of whom shy away from a confrontation due to an instinctive choice of flight over fight, having descended from a time and place where such reflexes existed for a good reason.
In today’s world, however, fitting in is losing its value as our society changes towards an ever-more volatile state where technology is upsetting the relatively peaceful way of life introduced by the industrial revolution. From an ever-present demand, humans are slowly but surely discovering that technology is replacing them at an unprecedented rate – and that there’s no turning back from progress.
Which means it’s time to stand out.
The perils of standing out
There’s a right way of standing out, and there are many very, very wrong ways of doing it. Here are some stereotypes to prove my point, beginning with the person who’s always trying too hard and ends up being the laughing stock of the office. Then, there’s the flirter – or better yet, the one who takes it a step further than that. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the brown-noser. Or the critic, out to deprecate the value of the contributions of others in an attempt to improve his or her own standing.
There are literally hundreds of examples of how people try to stand out the wrong way. They may even have the best of intentions, but lack the proper tools – or knowledge of their use. Put simply, trying to polish your car with a chain saw tends to lead to unfortunate results.
And now: crazy time
There’s a trick to standing out. It’s about respect. First, you must be able to deliver what people expect of you – although perhaps not in the way that you think. You should be reliable, but not predictable. Bold, but not at the expense of others. Honest, without compromising the value of others. There are many more of these, but let’s be honest – you already know what they are. You see these, and other qualities you admire and respect, in people around you all the time.
But don’t copy them. Don’t try to be someone else – that would make you appear just as you would by wearing someone else’s tailored suit. That’s right: you’d stand out in a very, very wrong way. Instead, emulate. See qualities for what they are, and what they are worth. Set goals for yourself. Be specific. Take notes, and above all never cease learning how to enhance the qualities you already posess – or acquire new ones for that matter.
And, above all else, be a little crazy.
If you aspire to these values, you will gain the respect – and attention – of others. This, in turn, allows you to be a little bit crazy. Bet someone you’ll shave your head if they beat you in that sales contest. Compose a song for your loved one. Run a marathon. Make the call you’ve always feared. Go beyond your comfort zone.
Just think about it: has anyone you’ve ever known achieved success through blending in?