OK, maybe Lady Gaga’s meat dress is a little too weird (courtesy of Crushable)
Eccentricity isn’t a liability. Run-of-the-mill is.
Think for a moment about the most successful rock stars in history.
Michael Jackson. Madonna. Lady Gaga. The Beatles.
What was the one thing which defined them? Well, they’re all…err…. weird.
Ditto for corporate chieftains like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, and Richard Branson. Each and every one of them are out of whack one way or another.
Indeed, there is something to be said about obsessive-compulsive behaviours that transcend normality. Andy Grove (former CEO and Chairman of Intel) sums it up with his book title “Only the Paranoid Survive”.
The truth is that being outstanding requires you to be a zealous, idiosyncratic and perhaps slightly lunatic extremist. You need to be so focused on being remarkable in your chosen domain that you shut out the rest of the world. At times, even eating, sleeping, and showering (ok maybe not showering) takes a back seat.
Art doesn’t come from ordinary Joes working nine to five. It comes from those who are borderline insane.
A similar strategy applies in organisations. Those that distinguish themselves often have a cult-like working culture, with values, ground rules and norms that embrace a disproportionate focus on one or two things. This can be in providing extreme customer service (like Zappos) or in developing a perfectly designed product (like Apple).
If you want to be great, you need to make your own rules. You need to set yourself or your organisation appart from the hoi polloi. You need to be different, albeit in a meaningful way.
In other words, don’t be strange just for the sake of being strange.
The moral of the story is this: If you can’t fit in, don’t.
Instead, embrace your inner weirdness and choose to make your crazed passion a point of strength. Focus on your uniqueness and make a point to excel in it.
Even if it gives others the heebie jeebies.