Why didn’t I think of that?
Can you remember the world before Post-It notes? Have you ever paused to appreciate the brilliant simplicity of the Phillips-head screw and screwdriver?
How many times have you cursed yourself for sloshing tea onto the table or dropping your keys between the car seat and console? But you never thought of the Tea-Pot Frame of the Drop-Stop Car Seat Gap Filler, did you?
Don’t feel too bad; you have plenty of company. That’s why we might all benefit from reading Adam Grant’s new book, The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.
But here’s the problem: For years, Dr. Pepper challenged the cola establishment with it’s tag-line, Be Original. Promoters knew that we all like to think of ourselves as one-of-a-kind, to imagine that we are masters of our own destiny, a breed apart from the herd. The sad truth is, however, that we only want to imagine it; in reality, nothing scares us more than the fear that we don’t belong.
Even the Dr. Pepper ads reflected our ambivalence toward non-conformity: a whole room full of people line-dancing, in perfect sync with one another, singing “Be original.”
Anti-conformity is easy. Just say no to the party line, and you can always find a cadre of nay-sayers willing to accept you into the ranks of their new conformity. Just look at some of the most unlikely front-runners in our political primary race.
True non-conformity is much more difficult. It requires thought, courage, integrity, perseverance, conviction, and the willingness to be able to join when it’s right to join and stand alone when popular opinion will crucify you for breaking ranks.
It’s just too hard for most of us most of the time. But then, nothing good comes easy, does it?