When Linda and I went to Alaska earlier this year we wanted to see bald eagles. Alaska is supposed to have one of the highest concentration of bald eagles anywhere, so we figured this would be a lock.
And we saw bald eagles. Not throngs of them sitting on a river bank, but more like one here and one there. The ones we did see were amazing, and it meant even more to us when we would happen to see one because it was special. We lingered, we watched, we took pictures… We remember.I’m not saying that seeing a whole gaggle of eagles wouldn’t have been cool, but the limited nature of our sightings make each sighting unique and memorable.
Unfortunately, I think too many people are afraid to share their own uniqueness, especially in the business world, for fear of being left out or left behind.
Maybe it’s a lesson we learned on the playground. Kids who are different get picked last for kickball, or just plain picked on.
So we conform. “Conform or be cast out” is a lyric by Rush from their song Subdivisions, which is about how tough is to be different growing up. The problem with that lesson is that it doesn’t really work later in life. I think the more we conform and follow a path just because everyone else does, the more we lose who we really are.
Now, if that path is really what you want to do – go for it – full steam ahead. Make the best of it! If you recognize that it’s not, stop.
Here’s how this can play out. I had a gentleman in my class the other day who has only been with his current company for about 1 month. He has a boatload of experience in the industry, and was asking about how to move up. In class we were exploring various communication and behavioral styles with the DiSC profile, and he asked if he should change his style to be more like the current leadership.
If you have read this entire post, I’ll bet you know what my answer was.
I said I understood his desire to fit in and be accepted, but I said it’s more important for you to be honest with yourself and true to who you are. Show you can get results, show that you have your own valid voice and be someone who can make a positive difference. In my opinion, that will make more of an impression than being a clone of the current establishment.
Of course I’m not saying this is easy. If you have been through this same thing, leave a comment below and let us know what you did to succeed!
Thanks for reading!