Dare To Be Different
Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes
There never was, nor ever will be, anyone exactly like you. Physically, your fingerprints, voice, eyes, teeth, and DNA can distinguish you from any other person living or dead. Mentally, your thoughts, dreams, and experiences are yours and only yours. So why does the world consist of so many “average” people? Why do so many people fight their desires for greatness and work so hard at “blending in with the crowd”? Why don’t more people dare to be different?
Collectively, societies create and define what are called “norms.” These societal norms tend to serve as standards to which most people adhere. Average people are only average because they choose to look, speak, and act like others who fit in this norm. Norms, for the most part, are a necessary part of any society and can help individuals avoid negative attention. Adhering to norms also, however, causes individuals to miss out on positive attention that comes as a result of actions and behaviors that are not part of the norm.
What are considered normal behaviors and actions are often based on our desire for instant gratification. As we already know, acting on this desire is one of the greatest obstacles on the road to success. Our psychological need for belonging is constantly directing us to the norm. In order to satisfy our higher need of self-actualization (where we find success), we must place a lesser importance on the need for belonging. Realize that by being different, you are not alone. Everyone is different, and everyone is unique in his or her own way; however, very few people have the courage to express themselves.
It has been said that the difference between insanity and genius is success. In actuality, the difference between apparent insanity and genius is success. Walter P. Chrysler was a nut who bought a new car and immediately took it apart and put it back together several times until the world discovered that his eccentric behavior led to his fortune. Wilbur and Orville Wright were two nuts who were trying to fly like birds—until they actually succeeded, now they are historical heroes. Chrysler, the Wright brothers, and thousands of others who achieved great success had the courage to deviate from the norm and be different.
Being different does not necessarily have to mean being an outcast of society. In high school, I had a chemistry teacher who used to celebrate students’ birthdays by writing their names with a highly flammable liquid on the classroom floor, shutting off the lights, setting liquid on fire, and leading the class in “Happy Birthday.” Although this one act had very little to do with chemistry, it created a bond between the teacher and the students. To this day, I remember more from that tenth-grade class, than any other class, and I won’t forget Mr. Norris.
Although all people are unique, most people tend to behave similarly in order to “fit in.” If your need for belonging is strong, then fit in with people such as Chrysler and the Wright brothers, not with the unhappy, work-despising, 20 pounds overweight, $20K-in-debt individual whose only joy in life comes from a bottle and the rare two-week vacation. Have the courage to do what others will not do. Stand out and get noticed. Dare to be different.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)