Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just Like Everybody Else

Recently in Time magazine, Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life, was quoted as saying, "If everybody...could make their own clothes, how like or unlike each other would you choose to be? A hell of a lot more unusual-looking than you'd think."

That's just wrong.

There's a lot of pressure to conform. Try wearing a Hawaiian shirt to an investment bank meeting. Try wearing flip-flops to a country line dance. Try wearing a business suit to the beach. Others will not follow your lead or feel like they too should be an individual. We follow crowds, and want to know that the territory is safe. Very few are like Robert Frost taking the road less traveled. The snowmobiler who caroms off the path is likely to find the hidden tree stump, the cliff, the barbed wire fence.

The person who insists that his cell phone conversation is more important than the dialogue on the screen in the movie theater will not be popular in the least...unless his half of the conversation is more entertaining than the movie (not likely).

A majority of us want to know that we'll be okay and accepted. Likewise, we want to be accepting of you. (Think "I'm Okay, You're Okay" from the '70's pop psychology trend.) Change is difficult for these S types (from the DISC profiles). People who are different are suspicious. Even intelligent Juan Williams admits being suspicious of people being different (and he got fired for sharing his opinion).

In business, the guy or gal with the challenging idea rocks the boat, upsets the apple cart and doesn't get invited to many meetings. Business wants steadiness, consistency and fulfilled expectations. It is expected that you will not be unknown or a variable. Gays in the military? Sure, but don't admit it. Creatives in accounting, not wanting to record entries the same as others? Not when the auditors around and probably not when we have to report to the SEC, IRS, shareholders or any other external entity...and how would we know how well we're doing?

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