Going along with the crowd is always your safest bet. And always mentally reassuring. But ask any of the over 30M small business owners in America, it can be even more fulfilling to follow your own unique mode of expression. As long as you do so carefully and consciously, it’s even possible you’ll inspire others to add value to their own individuality.
This is as true for small business owners as it is for employees of large companies!
Understanding when it’s appropriate to assert your unique ability versus when to run with the pack is a social skill we all learn as we grow up. When teenagers move away from home to go to college, they cast off the old ways from their high school years and begin to dress, walk and talk in an entirely new vernacular. The same goes as you move from company to company over your career – you look around and see what everyone else is doing to fit in, and you emulate. It’s simply natural to want to fit in and go with the flow.
But innovation is not born from standardized, corporate speak. Innovation is not aligned. Innovation takes courage, it takes inspiration and it entails risk. At times it hurts and failure is a bitter pill to swallow. But as Helen Keller is famously quoted, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.”
Now, don’t everyone out there just up and quit your day jobs all at once! But think about non-conforming in whatever roll you play in your present position. Or, if you have been laid off because of the pandemic, what would your ideal job be if you could wish upon a star? Think outside the universe, not just the box. Write down your plan. Analyze it. Present it. Get shot down a few times, take some arrows. Then get your bad self up again, rinse and repeat. This advice goes not just for the individual, but for companies as well. Non-conform as a unit. What’s the new you going to look like tomorrow morning when the alarm bell goes off?
Creating the new is terrifying and terrifyingly enchanting. So stop conforming. Go out for a walk and think of a new way to do the old, a better way to catch that mouse. Inspiration is infectious. And once you retrain your brain to think of new and better ways to do the old, it will become easier and more intuitive. You will develop that skill set just like any other skill set you’ve picked up along the way. Until you’re a walking, talking innovation machine. Stay bold. Start questioning. Stop conforming. Now is the time.