When you think about it, who is really not different? The truth is we are all unique, and that’s what makes our lives so interesting. Sure, there are times when conformity might have its place, but my opinion is that this is a lower percentage of time for it to be required. In fact, during times when people haven’t complied with conformity is when most of our inventions have been created, or pharmaceutical remedies produced.
The phrase “thinking outside of the box” is one of the concepts related to being different. When the expression is stated, it’s a direct request to ask people to not conform. My professional expertise before I pivoted my career focus had been in marketing, and the majority of the time in my former profession I spent thinking about how not to conform. In fact, I was always challenging myself and my teams with what we could do differently that would make a positive impact on the business. I loved thinking and working this way, and for me, this was incredibly satisfying.
Fortunately, the profession I spent the first two decades of my life in supported thinking differently, and was embraced and encouraged. My early and informal training as a marketing professional took shape in how I expressed myself with the clothing I wore. This was much to my Mom’s dismay, as she saw me walk out the door each day, even in elementary school with the most colorful and non-matching items I could find. I used to challenge myself with how creative I could become over time with my unique outfits.
When I was in high school, brightly colored clothing and accessories were not the norm. However, I happened to be ahead of my time from a fashion sense, as I was on the early side of what became known as the “preppy-look”. I loved this look, and embraced it with over the top ways of adding to experimenting with how I would put items together in what I referred to as my “collection”. Surprisingly you would have thought heading into fashion would have appealed to me. It did, and it didn’t. I loved the design aspect, but not the business part of it.
Both my Grandfather and Dad worked for a company that no longer exists, Polaroid. When I think back about how them working there influenced me, it did so by having me embrace being different as a good thing. As I was thinking about what contributed to this, the simple explanation is that I was probably photographed more as a child than most people in their entire life. The reason for this had to do with the fact that both my Grandfather and Dad were testing their products on me. My Grandfather was inventing cameras and film, and my Dad was buying the materials to make them. Part of their jobs, especially my Grandfather was to experiment with the cameras and films to see which ones could be marketed.
So, having to see myself in photos for years and not feel judged by the way I looked was truly freeing. It also contributed to giving me the confidence as a young person, to know how I looked, and to embrace it without any self or others judgement. Little did I know at the time how this would lead me into my first career, and then the one I am presently in.
With the profession I am currently in, it satisfies my need for embracing being different perfectly. Why? Because I understand the statistics that coming across someone who might be similar to me has the odds of 1 and 33 million. I love this, as it fully supports my thinking about how important being different is, and that it’s not a bad thing. In fact, one of the things I like most about the fact people are all so unique, is how to teach them to embrace and fully capitalize on understanding their talents.
Part of my professional work includes teaching people how to have a new language for how to express who they truly are to others. More importantly, when someone tries to use anther persons talents against them, I help that individual know how to explain that in fact what they are being criticized for, is in fact a strength of theirs. A strength that is perhaps misunderstood, misinterpreted or mis-applied where it should be. Has this ever happened to you?
Having confidence can play a big role in how comfortable people are with being different. The more confident people are, the easier it is for them to express themselves without being concerned about what other people think. It’s incredibly freeing when you have confidence, especially an abundance of it. When you do, or even if you have a small amount, being able to embrace either being different, or your differences to others can provide you with a sense of satisfaction I hope you have felt, or will feel in your life.
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coach, author of Wisdom Whisperer and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019), and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.
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