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.



Peter Fuller MBA CA said...

Hello Kiaran

People who are succesful always seem to stand out somehow.

When I see everyone jumping on the bandwagon over some new marketing technique I tend to avoid it.

Anyways, great read as always.


Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe said...

We are the sheep and our strength is in numbers - there is no denying that.

I don't even think we know any longer HOW to not conform. Nobody ever taught us that.

I dare myself to think of one "unconforming" thing I can do tomorrow. Hopefully, not anything I can loose my business over...:)

Ana Hoffman

Susanna Hess said...

Hi Kiaran,

I agree that being unique is the way to go.

There are some things that so many are doing simply because they are the more effective way.

But yes, we each need to find our own voice and express ourselves in a manner that is uniquely our own.


Work With Marcus said...

Hi Kiaran,

Love it!

I actually find myself getting particularly bored with the "sameness" I encounter on the Internet business side of things.

I am surprised we do not have more sheep profile pictures to go with the blah!


Oliver said...

Hi Kiaran,

I love this post. Not being conform with expectations of others is part of going one's own way. Sometimes, if we do that, we simply want to belong to another group and are conform with their expectations.

Thanks for sharing.

Take care


Robert said...

Hey Kiaran,

I have to agree, many of the very successful people are the ones that have not or do not conform to the norm. I am learning more and more about this world on a daily basis, I am truley understnading that wisdom comes with age and experience. Thank you for the very thought provoking topic as always... I can always count on you to make me think !

Karen said...


I loved the reference to the school playground...very prophetic! You are spot on with this post but I find that the most intriguing aspect of the Internet is that you truly can pursue and create anything you want to...there really are no rules. :)

Wayne Wu said...

Hi Kiaran,

Wow, a very thought provoking and interesting post.

There were some a-ha's... as a community of bloggers, we tend to follow convention - often the teachings of some guru. I sometimes have a different view, but often refrain from expressing it in a controversial way, so as to not "upset" members of the community following convention.

What you said about the schoolyard is true and very interesting.

You've inspired me to "screw it", I don't care if I upset a few people to tell the world what they need to know.


Mavis said...

Hi Kiaran,

Interesting and thought-provoking post.

Being unique is the way to go.

Thanks for sharing.

All the best,
Mavis Nong

Josh said...

Hey Kiaran,

The beauty of online marketing is being unique. When you look and smell like everyone else. How are you going to stand from the crowd?

When it comes to marketing you can't please everyone. So there will always be some folks that will be upset.

Chat with you later...

Jym said...

Hey Kiaran,

Fantastic post! Love it! I'm a big fan of non-conformity, originality, eccentricity and watching carefully where the herd goes and heading the other way as quickly as possible.

Your post brings to mind a phrase that's stuck with me for many years - 'Defy Stupid Laws, Always Question Authority'. Naturally this can be taken on many levels. Here I feel the relevance is in defying boring norms and questioning established conventions.

Having said all that, I guess the reason so many of us involved in online marketing seem to follow the same well trodden paths is this: Unless one has such a strength of purpose and clarity of vision as to be able to transcend the conventions, succeed and be truly great, then it's difficult not to drown in the oncoming tide of the established collective force. Most would rather do ok the 'copy & paste' way, rather than risk all or nothing for the gold.


Snorkel said...

This is the one that I just finally conquered...

Say no when someone asks you to go to a function/family gathering that you have no interest in attending.

Excellent post Kiaran, thought provoking it definitely was.

and I totally agree to unfriend or unfollow the annoying people!!