Thousands of years ago it was in a human’s best interest to fit in as best as possible. You didn’t want to provoke your community and you certainly did not want to upset the status quo. Not even if what you had to say was helpful.
Life was about survival, not risk and this way of thinking has been passed down through the generations like a cursed heirloom.
Why a cursed heirloom? Because it doesn’t pay to fit in anymore. It’s a hindrance. A different world requires different approaches and different solutions to old problems.
One’s unique upbringing can be used as leverage to introduce the world to a new way of thinking, a new system of technology or a new form of entertainment. To minimize that is professional suicide, personal disrespect and robbing the world of what it needs to progress.
Even if it is the world that is ridiculing one’s identity and ideas.
Steve Jobs famously said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” In my opinion, sometimes you can show them and they still will dismiss it. But when they check you a few years later they’re desperate for what you got.
Turns out you were ahead of the curb. You’re a visionary now but a few years ago you were ignored. But you realized it was easier to be who you are than to pretend to be something you’re not, so you won.
This is what photographer and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis who is quoted in the headline of this article was getting at when he was podcasting with Gary Vaynerchuk.
When you put your authentic self out there, the world will start eating out of your hands. Maybe not eventually, and maybe not the whole world, but you will find your audience, and this tribe will never kick you out because you all share the same values.
If you were the type to try and follow trends or do what you thought would make you successful, you will realize that you never needed to sell yourself short. You just kept selling yourself to the wrong customers.
Maybe you wanted to be popular and respected in school. Maybe you wanted a parent’s approval or a partner’s love. The ancient programming of the fear of non-acceptance kicked in and you did a bunch of stuff that either didn’t work, or worked really well but you lost yourself. It’s a lose-lose situation when you’re not being you.
Whatever short-term gain you get will eventually be corroded by your dishonesty. It may seem like a strong word but what else can I call it other than dishonesty? Inauthenticity works, but it doesn’t highlight the betrayal of truth.
It’s a different age and it’s time to start acting like it. The very people you may laugh at for their values or the people you raise an eyebrow at for their beliefs are thriving because they are who they are and people love it.
The final point to consider is this: why does everybody get to be who they are but not you?
Many people want what you have to offer. Go and give it to them.