Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Why Be Normal?

"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." - Henry David Thoreau

Why, indeed? What is this concept of "normal" anyway? Why did we want so desperately to be like everyone else?

In Orbiting the Giant Hairball, Gordon Mackenzie tells us that

To endure, a society needs a vision of what it means to be normal.

normal: 1: of or conforming to the accepted model, pattern or standard. 2: not abnormal.

But creativity and genius have not so much to do with being normal as with being original.

original: 1: having to do with an origin, source or beginning. 2: never having existed before. 3: created or invented independent of already existing ideas or works.

He goes on to tell us that from the time we are born, the pressure is on to BE NORMAL. He says that "those who somehow side-step that pressure and let their genius show are customarily ridiculed, reviled or otherwise discountenanced....It is not the business of authority figures to validate genius, because genius threatens authority. But there is still hope. You are an adult now. As an adult, you can choose to become your own authority figure. As such, you will be in a position to redeem the creative genius in your that was put to sleep."

I lead several Master Mind groups where people are studying various books and ideas to help them discover deeper understanding and awareness which leads to greater results in their lives. The people who are attracted to Master Mind groups apparently have a different level of understanding already to allow them to seek out opportunities to connect with others with that intention, so the results they are seeing in their lives often reflect that. The more they put into their own self-awareness, the more they receive.

During today's Master Mind, the topic of family came up. More than one person admitted that they had always felt out of place in their own families, with parents and siblings who seemed to fit in more than they did. It's probably no accident that this group of people has come together to explore ideas outside the realm of what might be considered "normal" business conversation. This group, along with many of the other groups I facilitate, is finding excitement, enthusiasm, inspiration, and even permission to become even more than they might during their ordinary conversations at work or at home.

Ordinary conversations are fantastic - that is where most of the world exists. If we continue to have ordinary conversations and interactions in our lives, we can't help but achieve ordinary results, which is just fine. But what happens if we add just a little extra to our conversations - a little extra depth, a little extra attention, a little extra listening? We will transform our relationships from ordinary to EXTRAordinary.

Let's go back to Henry David Thoreau for a second. Talk about a non-conformist! His mentor was Ralph Waldo Emerson, for heaven's sake. Emerson is the guy who said

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin or little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. "Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood." Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

If Emerson was right, it's great to be misunderstood - to be on the edge - to be the black sheep - the genius.

If you had the choice to be normal or to be great, what would you choose? The choice is there and it is yours.

What are you waiting for?

Join us Tuesday, June 16 and Wednesday, June 17 as we examine these and other questions around living an EXTRAordinary life and finding and naming our genius with author Dick Richards.

How FAR would you GO for Bigger Small Talk, more meaning, greater results in all areas of your life? Come to FARGO!


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