My dearly departed Mother would be happy to know all of the things she taught me have been put into practice. I was listening to what she said, often, over and over and over, and now I find myself saying, “Mom was right!” many times. On numerous occasions, when I would petulantly state to Mom, “Well, I don’t see why I can’t (fill in the blank for whatever I wanted to do that was being nixed); everybody else is doing it,” her reply would be, “Melissa, if everybody jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you do it too?”. (She always said the Golden Gate Bridge, never the Sunshine Skyway, which would have been a lot closer to Fort Myers and just as deadly a jumping off place.) Mom’s point was, it is okay to be different and more important, just because everybody else is doing something, that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. I have recently been chastised, by one of Magnus’ vendors no less, for being different, for not doing things the same way everybody else does it, and for wanting things to be good for me, instead of making do with things other people like. I had to explain to this vendor that it is completely irrelevant to me that “everyone else” does things one way when I prefer things to be done in a way that benefits me. I am, almost always, going to be outside the norm. I am not the average person. I never have and I never will be, thankfully. I am the proverbial square peg that refuses to fit in the round hole. Hooray for me! I don’t want to be like everybody else! I have come a long way from the child who thought it was cool to do what everybody else was doing; instead, I think it’s cool to be me. Thanks Mom, for giving me the self confidence to do battle with those who wish I were “like everyone else”! I’m happy to be me!
Most entrepreneurs have an “it’s okay to be different” mindset. As entrepreneurs, doing business our own, different way is usually a part of filling a niche` or providing customized services. So, the lesson Melissa took from her mother works to the benefit of our clients in our focus on each case as different, unique, and worthy of attention to the issues it has individually. There may be similarities to other cases, but there are always individual variables which must be considered. In other endeavors, being different is viewing as having a style. Take artistic endeavors like music or photography, for example; all music doesn’t sound like The Beatles or Beethoven. Not all photographers are Ansel Adams or Clyde Butcher. Being different can also mean being non conformist and I recall being told many years ago that if I continued to work in my own business (photography back in those days), I could probably never get hired by a big company. I don’t know about that; I would like to think some big company somewhere would appreciate an employee capable of independent, i.e., “different” thought, but I digress. The point is that it is generally, in my, and Melissa’s, opinion okay to be different. This being said, we both have an expectation that anyone who works for us will be able to recognize they are different than us and they must adapt their differences to their environment, our company, when working with us. Having the ability to self monitor and adapt makes it possible for those with individual differences to succeed where those who are not high self monitors would not. In the case of establishing technologies that make work or life better, I suggest that customizing those is part of the success variable as well. We can’t all like the same word processor, even if a certain company would prefer that conformity.