Weird is the New Normal: Being weird is a good thing

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The word “weird” can have negative connotations. Why do you think it should have more positive ones?

Normal is fading away. Governments and industries and schools like normal, because it’s easier, it scales and it’s profitable.

But people don’t like being normal, we want to be who we are, not who some marketer tells us to be.

And so, given the chance, we take it. We become non-normal. If all of us are making this choice, I would like to think it’s not a bad thing.

Schools makes us normal. The education-industrial complex (public schooling) was built by industry to produce compliant workers. (Not me saying that, it’s a historical truth). So of course we process people in batches, reprocess those that ‘fail’, mark for quality and reward those that fit in (with a pass), not stand out.

And we do it every single workday for twelve years. To everyone.

Three tips in how we can be more weird in all that we do:

1. Ignore tips.

2. Embrace being different, the edges. Don’t be different for the sake of being different, be different because its better.

3. When you are afraid, figure out why, question the fear, not the edge.

Weird is the New Normal: We are all Weird

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What are you going to do with your weirdness? Or the weirdness of everyone around you?

During the age of mass (mass marketing, mass manufacturing, mass schooling, mass movements) the key was normal. Normal was important because you needed (were required) to fit into your slot. Manufacturers insisted because profits depended on it.

Normal diets made it easier for mass food manufacturers to generate a profit. Normal driving habits made it easier for mass car manufacturers to reach their production minimums. Normal behavior made you easier to control.

But what happens when mass disappears? When we can connect everyone, customise and optimise, then what happens to normal?

Normal is so ingrained in what we do every day that it’s difficult to notice that your tendency toward the normal is now obsolete.

In the words of the philosopher Dr. Seuss, “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

Don’t kill your ideas, execute them

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It’s so funny when I hear people being so protective of ideas. (People who want me to sign an NDA to tell me the simplest idea.)

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.

Explanation:

BAD IDEA = -1
WEAK IDEA = 1
SO-SO IDEA = 5
GOOD IDEA = 10
GREAT IDEA = 15
BRILLIANT IDEA = 20
——– ———
NO EXECUTION = R1
WEAK EXECUTION = R1000
SO-SO EXECUTION = R10,000
GOOD EXECUTION = R100,000
GREAT EXECUTION = R1,000,000
BRILLIANT EXECUTION = R10,000,000

To make a business, you need to multiply the two.

The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth R20.

The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth R20,000,000.

That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas.

I’m not interested until I see their execution.

I cannot count the number of ideas that I had and let go only to find that someone else had the same idea and ran with it making lots of money.

Ideas are the easy part, they are half of the equation, execution is what complete it.

Fear: Jump off and do it again and again

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“You can’t get rid of fear, the harder you push back at it the louder it becomes.”

Fear creates procrastination in those who don’t understand it. People wait and wait or over educate hoping that fear will take a break and let you try that thing that scares you to death but fear is your enemy and your best friend.

Without it you wouldn’t know what really matters but with it, as your ally, you get energy and excitement to take action.

When my daughter was six years old, she went up a couple of steps on the ladder to jump off but she got scared and she didn’t off and I wouldn’t let her come down. After twenty minutes, she finally jumped off, and what she did instantly is get back up on the ladder to do it again. What happen? Why was it that the first time it was something she couldn’t possibly do and then she wanted to do it again?

The reason is there is this moment we have, the feeling that we get when we are about to do something that might not work. I think that feeling is what it is to be human, to be innovative, to make art and to make a difference. Some people have never felt that feeling because they have insulated themselves by following the rules, keeping their heads down, doing what they are told and “keeping it safe.”

A part of my job is to provoke people into feeling that possibility, into confronting your fear of doing something that might not work, and overcoming it by jumping off and then doing it again and again until you move to the next scary thing.

Feeling fearful is the recognition of potential growth. It will never leave; it wants to get your heart racing.

Fear: Workaholics driven by fear

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A workaholic lives on fear. It’s fear that drives him to show up all the time. The best defense, apparently, is a good attendance record.

A new class of jobs (and workers) is creating a different sort of worker, though. This is the person who works out of passion and curiosity, not fear.

The passionate worker doesn’t show up because she’s afraid of getting in trouble, she shows up because it’s a hobby that pays.

The passionate worker is busy blogging on vacation… because posting that thought and seeing the feedback it generates is actually more fun than sitting on the beach for another hour. The passionate worker tweaks a site design after dinner because, hey, it’s a lot more fun than watching TV.

It was hard to imagine someone being passionate about mining coal or scrubbing dishes. But the new face of work, at least for some people, opens up the possibility that work is the thing (much of the time) that you’d most like to do. Designing jobs like that is obviously smart. Finding one is brilliant.

Fear: Fear the fear, feel the fear

A very close friend shared this amazing video clip about fear on my facebook wall. Are fears our friends or do they just worsen our existence?

It’s a double edge sword, on the one hand, fear of being hit by an oncoming bus keeps away from danger and alive, but on the other hand, fear of achieving great things, keeps us in prison away from our achievements.

Most of the things we avoid are avoided because we are afraid of being afraid.

Too meta?

Sorry, but it’s true. The negative outcomes that could actually occur due to speaking up in class, caring about our work product, interacting with the boss, there’s not a lot of measurable risk. But the fear… the fear can be debilitating, or at the very least, distasteful. So it’s easier to just avoid it altogether.

On the other hand, artists and leaders seek out that feeling. They push themselves to the edge, to the place where the fear lives. By feeling it, by exposing themselves to the resistance, they become more alive and do work that they’re most proud of.

The fear doesn’t care, either way. The choice is to spend our time avoiding that fear or embracing it.

As long as you will still be alive, embrace fear, open the door and welcome it, because it is when you feel your fear that you know you are on to something worthwhile.

Fear: Fear is Prison

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Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease.

Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of intolerance.

Fear never saved a marriage or a business.

Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or bow down to their timidities did that.

But fear itself? Fear nudges us into a prison and slams the doors.

Wouldn’t it be great to walk out?

The freedom lies on the other side of the fear bridge.