Pressure to be invisible

“The world belongs not to those who fit in but to those who stand out,” Anonymous.

The challenge

The trouble with standing out is – standing out. Standing out isn’t always easy, isn’t always accepted, and isn’t always encouraged.

Peer pressure is the pressure to conform in order to gain acceptance. Conformity means you don’t stand out. Worse yet, peer groups reject those who stand out.

The opportunity

Yesterday I had a conversation with a young man who is freakishly analytical. He’s so analytical it’s difficult to enjoy a casual conversation with him. Casual isn’t his forte’.

His opportunity to change the world isn’t in his “normal” qualities. His opportunity is in what makes him unusual. And there’s the rub. Ask an average Joe on the street if they aspire to be unusual and the average answer will be no.

The qualities that make you abnormal are your opportunity for extraordinary impact.

The warning

Don’t fake it. Don’t pretend you aren’t “normal.” Don’t arrogantly reject peer groups simply for the sake of rejecting them.

Reject freakishness for freakishness’ sake. Reject damaging self-centered behaviors that tear down rather than add value. Embrace useful freakishness.

Don’t think your freakish-gift excuses you from developing character, people skills, and virtuous behaviors. Excusing personal development with, “That’s just how I am,” is lazy indulgence.

The application

Embrace your personal, professional, or organizational freakishness. Stand out.

Fitting in is self-defeating. Fitting in creates mediocrity.

Much of the energy I see expended around me is expended on being average, on being sure everyone fits in. When you fit in you disappear.

Wednesday’s leadership focus: Embrace your uniqueness with gentle tenacity. Embrace your place. Smile while becoming visible.


Can you think of people who changed the world by standing out?

What makes you stand out?