The Art of Nonconformity: Breaking the Stranglehold

Conformity.

I really struggle with this.

Quite often I’m told:

  • You need to buy a house
  • You need to invest in your company Retirement 401K (like that’s the only way to invest)
  • You need a degree (I did get one, but if you asked me that today, I’d definitely reconsider)
  • You need to read/watch the news, otherwise you’re ignorant
  • You need to spend 40 years in an office cubicle
  • Or if we go almost 9 years back in time: All of my friends chose to stay in Swindon, while I took the plunge and moved to good ol’ Greenwood, SC (a place I’d never visited before. I must admit as I arrived the first time at 10PM at night, I thought I had made a terrible decision. The place was dead!)

Why??

Because everyone else does? Just because the masses choose a particular path, it does not necessarily mean it is the correct one.

Mark Twain said it best:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

That’s not to say you cannot copy someone or that you cannot learn from anyone — there’s a lot to be gleaned from studying “successful” people’s habits and philosophies — but we must not mindlessly follow the crowd without questioning their reasoning.

I know many of you will look at the list above and cringe. But, we’ve put a lot of thought and research into them and we’ve essentially chosen to do the opposite in most cases. Well, that’s what makes sense for our situation, at least. I fully recognize we are all different. But humor yourself by at least considering the alternative.

I can distinctly point to this particular video by Jason Silva in his series Shots of Awe as a huge influence on my decision-making around this subject of nonconformity and so I wanted to share it.

My favourite quote from the video is:

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Every so often, I’ll go back to the video as a reminder:

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