What is the magic about being a square peg in a round hole, dear reader?

Aktualisiert: 24. Okt 2020

The glorious characteristics of people who dare to ‘think different’.

Non-conformists, originals or square pegs in round holes are these kind of people who doubt the default and look for a better option. Those people do not only have new ideas but take action to champion them. It’s those dreamers who do who stand out and speak up to drive creativity and inspire change in the world. 


“Ironically, it is those rare individuals who decide to leave the crowd and act contrary to what “everyone else” is doing who typically achieve true success, wealth, and fulfillment.” (Anthony Moore)


Our biggest regrets are not our actions, they are our inactions. The things we wish we could redo are the chances not taken (Social and Cognitive Psychology, 1997). It might actually be impossible to live an extraordinary life by doing what ordinary people do. 


How to carve your unique path and live an 'original' life?


There are three characteristics about extraordinary people that stand out. 

Firstly and counterintuitive at first sight: Originals tend to do things last minute. 


Why is that special? What is it about the magic of flexibility or some might name it 'last minute call to action'? 


Looking at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the night before the biggest speech of his life ‘the March on Washington’ he was up past 4 AM rewriting his speech (The New York Times, 2013). He crossed out words three and four times, and scribbled notes trying to find the right rhythm, until he would finally hand it to his aides to distribute it to the press. The four words that changed the course of history ‘I have a dream’ were not included in the script. By delaying the task of finalizing the speech until the very last minute he remained open to the widest range of possible ideas. As the text wasn’t set in stone he had freedom to improvise.


Secondly, originals feel fear and doubt, but embrace failure. Thinking about Elon Musk. He didn’t suspect Tesla to succeed in the very beginning. To the contrary, he was sure that the first few SpaceX launches would fail to make it to orbit or let alone to get back. But it was too important not to try. And for many of us when we have an important idea, we don’t bother to try. If you look across industries and ask people about their biggest dream or their most important suggestion, most of them stay silent instead of speaking up. They are afraid of embarrassing themselves and looking stupid. Originals have lots and lots of bad ideas and yet, they go do it. Ease and lightness are keys to success. Isn’t it that we are all going to screw up at one point? So, we might as well enjoy the ride. 


Thirdly, originals barely follow the rules by which other people operate. They live on their own, but rarely on other people’s terms. They appreciate conventional wisdom that has been passed down from generations to ensure everyone lives the same life, but they take from it what’s of great use for them and leave the rest. 


What’s the benefit of such a behavior? 


Although most people do not question living an ordinary life, they will be quick to shut down anyone who suggests an idea that is not between the pages of the ‘ordinary-playbook’ book. Gary Keller wrote in his book The ONE thing,

“Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.”

(Gary Keller)


And I couldn’t agree more. If you want to live a meaningful life well-lived, please give yourself permission to ‘think different’ (Steve Jobs) and burn the ‘ordinary-playbook’ book – it might not serve you well.


How can you do things differently? 


  • Don’t blindly follow the crowd, dare to defy the rules in order to create new rules that allow you to follow new pathways and create the life you want.

  • Acknowledge fear and doubt, give yourself permission to be imperfect and embrace your bad ideas.

  • Sometimes it is not in spite of those qualities but because of them that great thinkers succeed. 


 “Fitting in is a short-term strategy, standing out pays off in the long-run.”

(Seth Godin)


It is not easy. But I’m fairly sure, it is the best way to improve the world around us. Did you like what you read? Please pass it on to inspire others. I’d love to hear from you! 


Warmly,

Antje