Why Kids Should Be Different
Kids, since the dawn of time, or at least the advent of fashion, or maybe toys, have felt a need to conform or fit in. They want to dress alike, own the same toys, just be like the rest. This continues on through high school as they struggle to be “popular” or “able to hang with the in crowd”. As adults, they find work in a big corporation or government where they are encouraged strongly to “go with the flow” and “not make waves”. I say nonsense to this, be different and be glad!
Take a look at the most successful entrepreneurs around, and chances are they are a bit eccentric, which is a euphemism for “a little weird”. They usually do not care what society thinks of them. One of the defining traits of entrepreneurship is the ability to spot an opportunity and imagine something where others haven’t. They think outside the box and create a niche. This niche, an area of specialty or unique skill, is not perceived as an easily replaceable product or service. They are therefore better able to protect that niche from competitors, since they have developed the unique skill that sets them apart. The successful truly march to the beat of a different drummer. They do not seek outside validation. They seek it from within. They imagine a far different world than most and have the ability to make that world happen. They succeed by not being afraid to be different.
Bruce Lee Was Not Afraid To Be Different
Bruce Lee was extremely successful as a martial artist because he challenged the current dogma of the day. He embraced the martial arts of every style and included boxing, wrestling, and fencing and who knows what else in his arsenal of techniques. He “absorbed what was useful, and discarded the rest”. Of course, for him the truth in combat rested in what worked for him and his body style and physical attributes, and he disdained the idea of a “combat system” because of this. His approach of “using no way as way”, and his training methods, which seemed radical at the time, fundamentally changed the martial arts world as a result.
Left handers are very different, representing only about eleven percent of the population. They are discriminated against at every turn, growing up surrounded by right-handed tools, instruments, and appliances. They are continually trying to adapt to a right-handers world. I know this because I am a left-handed person. But guess what? They tend to be over-represented in the elite level of martial arts, for the reasons I stated in an earlier article. First, since they have to adapt, they become ambidextrous at a greater rate than right-handers, becoming more powerful and coordinated on their weak side. Second, right-handers have to fight someone with a style they are not used to fighting.
Some of the greatest artists in history have been lefties, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Rembrandt. Left-handers are no more successful than right-handers overall, but they are more successful in different ways. For instance, they tend to be more creative, while right-handers are more logical and analytical.
William Churchill was considered eccentric in his time. Even the Germans knew about it, as stated in Goebells 1941 diary: “A book on Winston Churchill reports that he drinks too much and wears silk underwear. He dictates messages in the bath or in his underpants, a startling image the Fuehrer (Hitler) finds hugely amusing”. His eccentricity did not stop him from becoming a master orator and one of the great leaders of the world. And you can bet it did not bother him to be different.
So I say, be different and be glad you are unique. Embrace it and let it work to your advantage.
“The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time”.
John Stuart Mill
Do you dare to be different?