“Why can’t you just do it the normal way?!?”
I’ll bet you’ve heard that one before.
I know I have.
It’s usually yelled, or wailed, or worse:
Hissed through clenched teeth with the despairing exasperation of someone who’s finally lost the battle to understand your particular brand of crazy.
And the “it”?
Well, the “it” can be anything…
Little things like I dunno, the way you wash the dishes, get dressed, change lanes, order pizza or dance at weddings…
Or bigger things like how you run your business, live your life, celebrate the holidays (or not) and let’s not even get onto uh, ‘bedroom activities’.
But what the heckins is ‘normal’ anyway?
It’s not a label you can apply to most entrepreneurs, creators and biz-owners.
Some – your faithful correspondent included – even actively reject it. It’s overrated anyway…
If you took ‘normal’ as a kind of starting point, then mapped out all the directions people move away from it, you’d have a lot of pretty interesting journeys.
The ones that end up furthest from that beige-ass baseline representing ‘the norm’ are the ones I wanna hear about.
When it comes to impactful work, ‘normal’ is actually something to be overcome…
Picture the people whose work or art means the most to you. I bet there’s barely a ‘norm’ in there, right?
Interesting people think differently. That’s why we’re attracted to ‘em.
There’s even a movement called ‘Wrong Thinking’ that helps people exorcise the limiting beliefs that can keep them from doing their best work.
Their manifesto says:
The way we solve problems is broken – we’re trapped by techniques and assumptions of a prior era.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but nothing riles me up like being ‘trapped by assumptions’.
Yet as design director and ‘Wrong Thinking’ practitioner John Bielenberg points out:
“Picasso and Steve Jobs were natural ‘wrong thinkers’, but the rest of us have to work at it.”
True. But why?
As adults, it’s almost like we have to wash away the layers of ‘normal’ to expose our true talents and really help people.
This is partly down to our natural desire to ‘fit in’…
We’re a social people, us People – hardwired to seek out similarities in others, and addicted to the safety of the pack.
It’s a survival tool in our DNA, but also a cultural thing…
Cast your mind back to when you were a kid, and how important it was to be considered ‘normal’ by your teachers and peers.
Then think of your teenage years and how hard you tried to prove you weren’t!
Normal is just a story we tell ourselves (and others).
Normal is what society tells us we should aspire to (ha!)
Normal is the enemy of Unique.
You and I aren’t bound by the routine restrictions of ‘normal’…
It’s our responsibility to throw off those shackles and strive for something better in our lives and businesses…
To write, create, solve problems and help people with our unique abilities – the skills and superpowers, quirks and kinks that free us from ‘the norms’ holding others back.
Here’s an inspiring example:
This week I read a story about Adam & Guy Makey, two brothers on the autistic spectrum who opened a comic shop called Niche Comics a few years back.
Life isn’t always easy for these guys, but their love of comics and the comic community led them to create a business that’s so much more than just profit & loss.
It’s a small, local biz that doesn’t make a ton of money, but there’s no doubt it’s a success…
Their regulars love it, the brothers love working there and it shows – they know their customers and they know their comics.
They now even provide work experience opportunities for young people with similar conditions, who can make use of their unique skills and gain experience that might otherwise be unavailable.
Pretty damn cool.
Now, a business expert could no doubt point to a bunch of spreadsheets and show why Niche Comics isn’t doing business ‘the normal way’…
But who cares?
Who gives a hoo-ha what ‘the normal way’ is, when the world is enhanced by such variety?
I think being a few clicks off centre on the ‘norm scale’ is actually a benefit to your biz…
It’s a way to get noticed. To take a stand. To do things differently. To sell unique.
Look, I’ve nothing against ‘normal people’, really.
But… let’s just keep doing things our way, ok?