We want to be normal. We want to fit in. We all do. Just last week, as I was packing for my first Board of Director meeting, I couldn’t decide what one wore to a BoD meeting, and got all befuddled. In this small way, and in many big ways, we show how much we all want to be a part of a tribe, a group, our unit because we want to belong.
This, too, is normal. Our heritage and conditioning explains how we as a 21st century people came to value “fitting in”. It started when our Palaeolithic ancestors learned to survive because their inclusion and acceptance by their clan, meant — quite literally — their very survival through a harsh winter.
We continue pursuing normal and, in the process, we do ourselves a big disservice. Seeking normalcy means we stop looking for what makes each of us unique. We stop asking ourselves the question of our purpose. We stop valuing dissension as a source of creative fuel. When we deny difference in opinion, we lack the friction to rub ideas together to make a better option of the two. When we don’t have many ideas to choose from, our institutions reduce their innovation.
So seeking normalcy is actually destroying us. To belong by being ‘normal’ is to not belong at all, because we are not allowing our full selves to be seen. Normalcy is a myth in the same way a unicorn is a myth. To try and find it, we only walk further and further away from ourselves. To seek normalcy is to say there is a state at a particular time, way, or place that is “right” and if only we could find it, we would be “right”, too. Even the economic discussions talk about a return to “normal” as a standard by which we’ll measure success. It suggests there is an absolute right answer or time or place or a particular economic index by which we can breathe a sigh of relief.
But those of us that have lived a while have figured out that life is actually more about change than about the constant. For sure, we have learned that life demands an ability to adapt to change. It is about accepting what has happened, understanding where we are right now, and then finding purpose and clarity in the next move. To continue to chase that unicorn of Normalcy wastes energy, while taking us further away from greatness.
This video on “Flying Your Freak Flag” Ignite talk (By Joe Gerstandt) expands on this idea, beautifully.