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Better Business Idea #71

It's OK to not be normal!

© 2005 by Michael C. Gray

June 6, 2005


We Americans have conflicting ideals in our culture. One ideal is the "rugged individualist" hero archetype. When I was growing up, he was Davy Crockett! The other ideal is the "herd" archetype - the desire to "be a member of the in-crowd."

When we are young and going through the educational/socialization progression, it's natural to try to "fit in" with the group, to want to "be normal." And since parents and teachers want to see children "be happy" and "have lots of friends", it's natural for them to also promote "fitting into the mold" and "promote normal development."

Sadly, the result of this well-meaning tendency is to stifle the development of our children's gifts and lose potentially extraordinary contributions to our society.

Extraordinary achievers aren't "normal"!

Gene N. Landrum, Ph.D., author of Profiles of Power & Success and many other books, has studied great achievers in depth and found they tend to be maniacs on a mission! They are "out of balance" because of their consuming passion in their areas of interest. As a consequence, they make extraordinary contributions in their areas of interest, but may suffer in other areas, such as their relationships.

(I recently met Gene Landrum and we had a delightful conversation. He was the creator and first president of the Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Restaurants! When his mother visited one of the restaurants for the first time, she said, "Son, when are you going to get a real job?")

When well meaning friends, relations and co-workers try to "fix" the extraordinary achiever, they may be spoiling the combination required for the achiever to accomplish his or her mission in life.

An analogy from comic book mythology is Green Lantern's light. The super hero Green Lantern has a power ring that can do almost anything except against a yellow object. The ring must be recharged daily from Green Lantern's light. The reason the ring is ineffective against anything yellow is the power source in the light has a yellow impurity. If you remove the impurity, the light and ring lose their power!

The appropriate response when an extraordinary individual has some dysfunctional behavior (like a messy office) may be, "It's supposed to be that way!" For example, a participant at Dan Kennedy's 2005 Renegade Millionaire Boot Camp said she noticed a dramatic decline in her productivity after hiring a personal organizer!

I think the reason that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running holiday cartoon is that so many children identify with Rudolph and his "misfit" friends, who aren't accepted because they are "different."

As parents, teachers, and friends, why can't we learn to value and nurture the special gifts of each individual, and accept his or her "eccentricities"?

As Mister (Fred) Rogers used to say, "I like you just the way you are!"

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Michael Gray, CPA
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