Do you dare to be different or prefer to go with the flow? Do you look to fit in or do your own thing? Do you prefer to be anonymous or stand out from the crowd?
If we are to improve, we must make consistent, intentional choices.
But why do you act, feel, speak, and think the way you do?
Why do you make the choices that you do? Why do you choose to be different?
The answer might seem inconsequential, but it could be vital to your success.
Being successful at self-development requires you to break from the norms and take a stand.
For most of us, this will take us out of our comfort zone, but the benefits are massive.
I have a morning ritual. It involves getting up at 5:00 am and preparing myself for the day through a series of repeated and consistent tasks that I repeat daily.
I am fortunate to be taking some time off work and spending time with my 94-year-old Mother right now.
I still surface at 5:00 am most days, to be fair, my body wakes me up a little earlier, and complete as many of my usual tasks as possible.
I take a short walk, drink water and don’t eat for the first two hours and then make my morning coffee.
There is something pleasurable about the sound of the coffee maker and that smell of coffee.
Despite being away from my norm, I manage to continue with my routines, such as reading, meditation, checking the weather, writing in my journal and training.
Between 5:00 and 6:00 am it is so quiet here. Aside from the occasional car passing, you would swear it is deserted. Almost all the other 265,000+ residents of St Petersburg chose to stay in bed while I walked outside and sat alone.
Newlywed and Nearly Dead
I expected to be alone. This place is known as ‘the land of the newlywed and nearly dead’.
Showing that it is mostly honeymooners and retirees that flock here.
And they generally follow a set pattern, including a late breakfast, plentiful food, a lot of alcohol and excellent sunsets that stretch into late-night entertainment.
Not everyone follows the same pattern, but the vast majority do.
For me, that doesn’t fit. Don’t get me wrong, I love food and enjoy a few drinks, but I chose to go to bed before 10:00 pm so that I could get up early.
I always try to maintain my morning ritual even if I am travelling. It is that important to me because I have determined it forms a crucial part of my self-development.
And so I go for my walk and find myself alone: fascinatingly, wonderfully, beautifully, alone on my own tropical paradise. At least for an hour or so, and I love it!
Being A Follower
Going along with the herd definitely has value. Laws, guidelines, etiquette and rules are there for all of us all to follow.
Choosing to drive through a red traffic light while everyone else follows the rules will probably result in an accident.
And walking to the front of a queue and demanding immediate attention doesn’t tend to make you many friends.
Social conformity definitely has a place.
When enough people agree to do the same things in the same way, then clubs, towns, countries and even empires are built.
When we support and encourage each other around a set of agreed values, it makes us stronger and more influential. But there is more to the story.
Be Better By Being Different
There is no moral high ground here. I respect that everyone has the right to make their own choices.
Getting up before 5:00 am does not make me any better than the next person.
I choose to get up before everyone else because it works for me. I made a deliberate and intentional decision to behave differently from other people.
Consider this, if people did not think outside the box and break out of the mould and be willing to take risks, we would not have the technology and achievement we currently enjoy.
What if no-one had ever imagined a telephone in their pocket?
As I write that as I think how indispensable my iPhone is to me.
Innovation, by its definition, seeks to break free from the norm and challenge what is accepted.
Thinking and behaving differently is not reserved for the great or the few.
It is incumbent on us to be visionary about our self-development.
To Follow or To Lead?
It is easy to underestimate the power of peer pressure and social conformity.
When my friend, Mike, joins us for dinner out, he studies the menu but then asks everyone else what they are thinking of having.
He will invariably choose the same meal as someone else at the table.
We find comfort in being the same as others. Communal experiences feel good.
And that is wonderful to a point, when we blindly follow those around it leads us into a “sheep mentality”.
On subtle levels, it prevents us from experiencing the variety and richness of life’s choices.
At its worst, it drives mob culture and crowd violence.
On the other side, some people are determined to be different at any cost.
If you say it is too hot, they say it is just cold or at best, nice. Have you met someone like that?
They seem to want everything to be an argument. I will admit to being a bit like that and perhaps can lapse even further into it sometimes. The problem is being different at any cost purely for the sake of being different is ultimately counter-productive.
Rut of Rebellion
People find you anti-social. The end result is that rather than improving yourself, you are stuck in a rut of rebellion.
We need to find a balance between conforming and rebelling. When choosing the path for our lives, the default choice tends to be the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.
However, finding and consciously acting on our “points of difference” helps us to express our individuality and explore other avenues of self-improvement.
When considering the choices you have, a critical question to ask yourself is, “Is this my best option, or am I following what everyone else is doing?”
You can ask yourself this question about:
- How you spend your free time.
- Your eating and exercise habits.
- The language you use (swearing for example).
- How you use social media.
- How you talk about your partner with others.
- The TV programmes and movies you watch.
- Your political affiliations and how you vote.
- Any area where you suspect you might tend to follow the herd mindlessly.
Brave To Change
Do you have the courage to be different when it matters? Daring to be different and taking a stand and is not about taking action against other people. It is about making choices for yourself.
Change takes courage and is rarely easy. But if you can develop a vision of a better version of yourself and see the way forward, don’t let other’s opinions or social conformity hold you back.
Here are some questions to get you thinking about change:
- In what areas do you fall into herd mentality?
- When do you follow the herd when you know swimming against the tide would be better?
- What changes have you avoided because you fear what other people might think?
- Does life sometimes feel a bit too ordinary or routine?
Being different doesn’t have to involve sudden or significant change.
Self-development comes when good choices are followed through in small, simple, and consistent steps.
Those steps need to start now.
- Consider the areas in your life where you might need to make changes.
- Decide to go against the herd if it is appropriate.
- Drill down to find the one, single, most significant improvement you need to make.
- Take action NOW.
I commend you if you’ve made a choice to not follow the herd and improve yourself.
Could you “Leave A Reply” below and share your experience to encourage the other readers?