You’re Born an Original, Don’t Die a Copy

Were you a rebel?

Most of us grew up learning to stand in line and follow the crowd. Our teachers looked approvingly at us when we…behaved. But who remembers the good kids? Teachers only remember the ones who tested their limits. The rebels, so to speak, with much affection in fact! Most of the time anyway.

Now, well into our adulthood, having had so much of that mindset inculcated in us, suddenly, we’re told to “be creative” and to “disrupt the market”. Wait, mind the rising blood pressure.

It’s unfortunate, but we grew up with more “nos” than “yeses”. More “watch out!” than “go for it”.

What a noisy world

The problem is that the world we now live in is terribly unfriendly to the boring cookie cutter anything. We are busy people living in an attention-based economy. We don’t have time for mass-anything.

It’s becoming clearer that to not take risks is in itself the biggest risk.

Can you blame them? Herd mentality is real

We see this play out in large organizations as well. Executives shoulder responsibilities that usher them to the “safe corner”. Herd mentality becomes the default and the company and its competitors unwittingly find themselves in a dejavu quarter after quarter.

Herein lies the fairly obvious problem. When the stakes are so high and when that unique strategy proves to be a bad strategy, executives may very well lose their jobs. There is way more incentive to make small incremental changes over time, and stick to the road yester-traveled.

We need to break the spell

I love this quote by the great innovator Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If no one on an executive team explores a contrarian view, companies may miss opportunities to build competitive advantage, launch new business models or industries, or otherwise position itself for long-term success. Isn’t that intangible future a bigger loss?

Following the crowd isn’t necessarily wise

So I believe we’ve got to unlearn some of what our well-intentioned education system has taught us. We’ve got to be a bit of a rebel. I’ve taken my own advice. Going mainstream cost me too much in the last decade or so. I’ve learned that to stick to the truest parts of me is the surest way to win and that’s where I’m headed.

Unleash your inner rebel for good

You and I were born originals, don’t die a copy. To be safe is to give up greatness. To be liked by the masses is in itself an illusion. Go deep into that thing that makes you tick, be remarkable, go a little wild. Go and make a legacy that counts.