Most successful people I’ve ever known and read about have one trait in common: the willingness to challenge mainstream ideas and explore the roads less travelled.
These successful people question what most people do and tell them. They have the courage to try something different than the great majority and are brave enough to stand out from the crowd and not take the safe route.
The Common Route
Most people take the common route, because it’s save and they usually know what to expect. Also they’re afraid of being different than their peers and shipwreck. If you do what other people do, then you don’t look stupid. But then you may miss out on the amazing.
Being average is comfortable and fine, but the people who step out of their comfort zone and stand out are the ones who inspire and leave an impression, who innovate and explore, who really follow their interests and passion.
Standing out has a lot of benefits: Your work, opinion, you as a person are noticed because you allow yourself to be different and using different approaches. At the same time it attracts other extraordinary people allowing you to form valuable friendships with people you admire, respect and who inspire you.
The same is true for your business life: If you stand out when you start a business, people will be curious and check you out. If you’re just one of many businesses doing the same thing, why should others care about you?
Nevertheless, most people play it safe and stay in their comfort zone:
- Most people follow the education system, go to school and then university because that’s what their peers do. They don’t really know what other opportunities there may be, so why not take the common route which their parents & grandparents did? And that’s ok, but it’s good to look into other possibilities, possibilities that you may be more enthusiastic about.
- Most people get a job and stick to it, despite the fact that they might dislike their job or their colleagues, simply because its easier to stay where they are and it’s the common way to make a living. (Others might be a solo entrepreneur or start a small business and dare to create something new and live a life they’re passionate about.)
- Most people eat unhealthy stuff because that’s how they were brought up, and eating differently is uncomfortable, weird and unthinkable. “I love chips, hamburgers and ice cream too much!” But then you miss out on a whole world of healthy, delicious food, and the opportunity to live a healthy life and look and feel better.
- Most people make debt, make more debt, buy a lot of things they don’t need, because that’s what everyone else does — and changing it is too difficult and…right: uncomfortable. And yet, consuming more won’t bring you happiness, safety or impress anyone.
These are just some examples which show our need to play it safe and it turns up in every part of our lives, limiting our perpectives and our lifes.
Don’t be Afraid to Think Differently
You hear an idea that’s different than what you’re used to. Do you feel the urge to disagree and dismiss the idea? Pause instead and consider it — is there some value? What are the arguments, the evidence and facts? Train yourself in being open-minded. An open mind usually sees more and therefore has more options.
Let go of the defensive attitude and emotions that come up. When I mention the disadvantages of watching television, eating meat every day or driving a car for example, people become defensive and even offended. They turn the new, unpleasant ideas down, so they can go on doing what feels comfortable. They disagree and attack. And yet, if you control these defensive, negative emotions, and look at the facts and have an open mind, you might learn to think differently and improve your life.
When somebody tells you “this is the way to do things”, take a closer look. Is this really the best way for you? Are there other , better ways and possibilities? If no one has thought of them, can you?
Learning to question what other people tell you and what even “experts”, the state, teachers, your parents and other “authoroties” tell you, might open a new world of chances and opportunities. One of the best things in being different and making things differently: you have by far less competitors and you do what you chose for yourself instead of what others have chosen for you.
Test out different ideas and beliefs. Just because most people don’t do it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Also keep in mind: most people hate their job and have a lot of unfulfilled dreams. So they might all be wrong. No better way to find out than to test it. If it’s not a good idea, drop it and move on. An inspiring example of someone who challenges common methods is Tim Ferriss: He doens’t believe in common methods-he questions them, tests alternative methods and build his life on the methods that work, no matter if they are not “common sense”.
Learn to be proud of your ability and willingness to test things that people traditionally believe in, and not to be afraid of standing out. In fact, learn to see standing out as amazing — not just to be different, but to forge new ground, to challenge ideas and beliefs, to express your individual voice rather than following the crowd.