Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ordinary May Be Overrated!

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We live in a culture that increasingly embraces connectivity. The melding of outward disconnection with a simultaneous 24/7 digital conversation is both ironic and mildly disconcerting to those of us not permanently attached to this digital umbilical chord.

Social niceties and courtesies are becoming severely diluted. I recently navigated the labyrinth that is Victoria Station and found myself marveling at the mass commuter hive of activity and yet clinically barren of human interaction.

Each earnest participant on this treadmill journey seemed to be lost almost trance-like in some parallel universe, having engaged some sort of automatic homing device to skilfully navigate the human traffic.
Ipods at full volume, newspaper in one hand, steaming coffee in the other and midst this madding crowd a complete absence of eye contact. 

In this new world it would seem arcane and redundant to distract the herd by smiling, excusing yourself or being so bold as to offer some poor lost soul assistance.
The pause for thought prompted me to ponder the irony of this mass disconnect in a square mile comprising of innumerable heartbeats. I wonder if this immersing in our digital universe comes at a price.

A belated message? We are fed a diet of tabloid sound bytes that morphs into pop culture. We celebrate the superstars of the quarter minute and behold their ascension to the pedestal of the extraordinary. Meanwhile the masses despite more capacity for creative genius at their fingertips become ever more ordinary.

Be extraordinary. Try it for a moment. Find a voice, not one that is part of a chorus, just a unique sound. Herds provide comfort and security, but equally they are easy to shepherd and lead to some one else’s tune.

The problem with aspiring to the extraordinary of course is that peer pressure can be hard to ignore. Fitting in is the name of the game and being bold requires a little bravery.

  • A random act of kindness
  • stopping to offer assistance even though you’re late for an engagement with a cappuccino
  • responding to others tweets despite an overwhelming urge to share your fascinating thoughts to the world
  • checking out your loose facebook connections and making a comment even though they’ve never bothered to acknowledge your birthday
  • sending the secretary a bunch of flowers anonymously just to say thanks…..

Being extraordinary is not earth shattering, but can be profound in so many ways. I defy you to take a step away from the societal norm even briefly and be extraordinary and not feel a sense of enervating connectedness that lingers.

It may not be extraordinary but if you’d like to shake your urge to completely disregard this scribble and leave a comment that’d be great!!

Here’s hoping ordinary or extraordinary life’s unfolding well for you!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Road Less Traveled - Conformity May Be Your Achilles Heel

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 The tone of this post is wry and gently provocative and not a rallying to call to quit your job, divorce, burn your friendships, or change one iota of your current status quo - not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that!

We are the champions"– so sang Freddie Mercury an eternity ago and the song echoes throughout the great sporting stadiums of the world. It’s rousing and evocative. Evocative of shared triumph – and epitomizing a truly tribal sense of belonging.

There’s a primeval urge that is felt by all reasonably socialized individuals to fit. As rebellious youth we are defiant in our rejection of stereotype. It’s all about the individual, and expressing that unique albeit pompous voice that contradicts the old fashioned social mores and yet…..
With an uncanny predictability, each generation ever so subtly morphs into a diluted version of their parents.
100 years ago The Who proclaimed, “I hope I die before I grow old ” and with an irony that is breathtaking, sold the rights to the biggest television syndication of the millennium (CSI)

In the spirit of my Life Matters Blog I’d like to provoke a pause for thought for your consideration!
Social Networks are an extension of the school playground. There are leaders who dictate what’s cool. There are the followers – those that fit in and comprise the masses. And then alas there are those poor misfortunates that don’t quite fit, and are derided, teased, bullied or ignored.
Follow their path for a few years and you’ll often find they are more often than not the interesting members of society. Misfits build multi billion dollar empires out of digital thin air. They evolve into Authors, actors, king makers and sociopaths. Interesting doesn’t always equate to wholesome!
I doubt there are too many sociopaths reading this post and if so, no offense!  But here’s a thought. Imagine completely disregarding convention in your business and social networking endeavors.

Sell when others are buying. 

Un-follow those that annoy you.

Quit your business that you’ve invested all that emotional energy into and start over

Try a new less fancy blogging forum. 

Jump on Facebook and imagine all those connections you’ve spent months cultivating are potential friends rather than list fodder, then follow some threads and see what they’re about and engage without any thought of developing a business relationship.

Empty your pockets next time you see a homeless person instead of searching for the smallest coin you can find. Say no when someone asks you to go to a function/family gathering that you have no interest in attending.

Find your own voice and tempt ridicule by expressing the real you.

Be authentic and imagine that it’s ok to be you.

Of course this is not the pulpit of any brand of insightful wisdom. The intended message is as follows. Bland is boring. Effective is uninspiring. Efficient is mechanical.  Copy and paste is expedient but rarely leads to long-term success.
Warts are interesting. I don’t want them but I’m intrigued when fallibility is shared. Tribes are safe places, and safety is an important cog on the hierarchy of needs, but it is also a potential creativity suppressor.
So try it for a day, a week or a month. Go against the tide, follow the road less traveled, and you may end up lost confused or enlightened.