Why Being A Nonconformist Is Exactly What Your Company Needs From You

Why Being A Nonconformist Is Exactly What Your Company Needs From You

By William Arruda

We hear it all the time: blend in, toe the line, go with the flow. From childhood, pressure to conform shapes us. At work, we’re continually squeezed to fit the mold.

In addition to hearing conformist messages our whole lives, there are lots of instinctive reasons we conform—the need for belonging, the fear of being judged, the desire to be protected by a group. Our brains are wired to want acceptance. But social pressure can lead us far from success.

Research reveals that conformity and compliance don’t drive achievement. A study in MIT Sloan Management found that nonconformity is a characteristic of creative achievement. Conformity may feel safer, but it confines you. To unlock your potential, defy the safety of being bland and be yourself instead. True success requires the courage to stand out. Here are three reasons to celebrate your inner rebel:

1. Standing Out Gets You Noticed

Big opportunities live outside your routine. To seize them, you must get visible. Conformity hides you in a sea of sameness. Breaking free makes you pop.

2. Standing Out Allows You To Live Authentically

Everyone has unique talents, values and life purposes. Suppressing your individuality squanders your gifts and thwarts fulfillment. Your differentiation makes you who you are. Celebrating it allows you to live and work as your authentic self. This promotes happiness while setting you up to make a major impact on your personal path and your world.

3. Standing Out Lets You Shake Things Up

People who buck conformity fuel innovation, spur social progress and incite needed changes. Many seminal figures were nonconformists, as we saw in this famous Apple ad narrated by non-conformist Steve Jobs. Having the nerve to defy conventional wisdom frees you to develop original solutions and drive progress unimpeded by established thinking.

Here are six ways standing out will help you grow your personal brand and expand your career success:

Take a stand

Boldly asserting your original point of view and ideas attracts attention. Being unafraid to show your true colors bolsters your personal brand. This visibility and distinctiveness will open more doors. Add your point of view to meetings, to the content you share online and in your discussions with colleagues and clients.

Brand your elevator pitch

One place where conformity runs rampant is also one of the best places separate yourself from the herd. When everyone shares tired, rote intros, shake it up with a powerful brand statement. Replace the “Hi, I’m [name], I work in [generic department title] in [Anytown, USA]” with an original opener or share what excites you about the project you’re all working on.

Disagree, respectfully

A series of experiments by psychologist Solomon Asch showed that up to 75 percent of people tend to go along with the decisions of a group, even when the decision doesn’t make any sense. This is because of our strong drive to achieve social conformity. It’s hard to disagree when everyone else is singing from the same song sheet. When you’re in a meeting and everyone is piling on their endorsement, but you feel strongly that it’s a mistake, express your disagreement. According to Justin Bariso, “You have to learn how to speak up when needed. One way to do this is to ask yourself: If I don’t say this, will I regret it later?”

Make your office reflect you

Whether you work at the office or remotely, personalize your space to exude your brand. Research shows that it’s not only good brand differentiation, it makes you more productive and creative too. Psychologists Craig Knight and S. Alexander Haslam performed a study to determine which types of office spaces increase employee well-being and productivity. The study revealed that best office environments are custom designed by the employee.

Shine with your LinkedIn About

Your LinkedIn About, in many instances, will be your first impression. To stand out from the start, make it exude your uniqueness. If you read your LinkedIn About and a lot of it could refer to others in your field, congratulations, you’ve made yourself a commodity—replaceable by anyone who shares your job title. You don’t want to be a walking template. Instead, put yourself in a category of one, emphasizing your traits that defy categorization.

Speak your own language

Avoid the temptation to use corporate speak. Using business jargon is not only conformist, it makes you look less confident. Speaking your own language makes people take note, especially if your own language makes things easier for your audience to relate to.

When you feel pressure to conform, remember that unanimity, compliance and invisibility have never changed the world. When you boldly assert your individuality and live your personal brand, you spark transformation. It’s time to conquer conformity. Your unique, authentic self is needed.

*This articles first appeared on the Forbes website

*William Arruda is a keynote speaker, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the 360Reach Personal Brand Survey.

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