Subba Rao S M
Nonconformists often have greater success!
Sriram asks his friend Mahendra, "Where have you been? I've been waiting here for you for 15 minutes. They are ready to give our lunch reservations away."
Mahendra nervously replies, "Sorry Sir, I was waiting in line at the ATM. Everyone thought one of the ATM machines was broken, so we waited in the line at the single machine that we believed was working. Luckily there was a young man in a rush who tried the other machine. It was working all along. We just assumed that it was broken. We would have been waiting for another 15 minutes if it weren't for that young man who couldn't wait."
Sriram thinks, "No wonder this guy can't succeed in his job. He just follows the crowd."
Sriram challenges Mahendra, "Why didn't you see if the other ATM machine was working yourself? Why did you wait?"
Mahendra replies, "I didn't want to make a scene. It would be embarrassing if it turned out that I was wrong. It was better to wait." Mahendra is a conformist, and extreme conformity is everyone's worst enemy.
Mahendra typifies conformity at its worst. He cares too much about what other people think. He is afraid to take a reasonable risk that has only minor potentially negative consequences. He doesn't take initiative. This act of conformity illustrates how the masses blindly react to the ups and downs of their lives.
Why does the typical 'common man' conform?
Looking good: Am I making the right impression?
Firstly, the conformist is overly concerned with issues of self-presentation. He or she is interested in looking good. This concern with making the "right" impression has been programmed into his or her psyche from childhood. It is so pervasive that the person is always worrying about making a good impression even when it is not necessary. He or she may hold on to an argument, for example, to save face. Or, he or she may unconsciously think, "I don't want to do anything too innovative and feel like I need to explain it to my friends. I might come off as a fool."
In the end, who cares what anyone thinks? If you have trouble, think. If you have trouble with conformity, it's vital to look inward for what you want to do. Don't let other people determine what you want to do.
Fear of failure: Wouldn't it be shameful if I took a risk and failed?
Secondly, the typical 'common man' is afraid of taking a risk. Again, there's fear of shame that lies behind conformity. The person who ensures conformity needs to be right. The worst thing he or she can do is to take risk, fail, and face the consequences.
So what if you fail? Everyone fails. Ask successful persons and you'll hear from them that they have had more failures than successes.
Sachin Tendulkar will tell you on how many crucial occasions he has wished he hadn't got out though he has so many world records. Anil Kumble has been hit several times for a six, and Roger Federer doesn't always break through the defence. The Bee Gees have a host of records that no one even bothers listening to, and for every successful invention such as the light bulb, Thomas Edison had a string of failed inventions. Failure is inevitable if you are seeking success.
You can go your own way and emerge a winner!
The successful person isn't afraid of looking bad, afraid of taking a risk, or afraid of failure.
There's a difference between breaking the rules just to be a rebel, and not being concerned with rules. The successful architect or novelist isn't afraid to break the rules. He/she is a rugged individualist.
So if you want to be a winner, don't be afraid to take risks. Protect yourself with proper risk management, but don't hold back. Move beyond your comfort zone little by little. It may take a little time, but eventually, you'll learn to break the rules when you need to go your own way, and you will emerge a winner.
It's not what happens to you, it's what you do about it.
Remember Jonathan Seagull's famous words 'If you think you can, you can?' Norman Vincent Peale, the great American thinker, used to narrate a conversation with a friend, whenever he met with people who thought they were weighted down with nothing but problems in their lives. His friend George complained so bitterly one day to Norman about how fate had dealt him a lousy hand of cards, containing nothing but problems and how he would gladly donate 5000 dollars to a charity if someone can show him a way out of his troubles.
Norman thought for a while and said 'Yesterday I was at a place where thousands of people reside. Not one of them had any problem. Would you like to go there?'. George replied 'Sure, when can we go? That sounds like my kind of place.' 'IN that case, George, I will be happy to take you tomorrow to Woodlawn Cemetery, because the only people I know who have no problems are dead', replied Norman.
The message is that there is no such thing as a perfect life and we have to learn to overcome our troubles. Stephen Hawking and Helen Keller are brilliant inspirational stories that come to mind. There is another example, that of W. Mitchell, an entrepreneur in Colorado, narrated by Canfield and Hanses (in 'Chicken Soup of the Soul'), which illustrates courage in the face of adversity in life.
Mitchell lived a typical American life, living in a Victorian home in Colorado; he owned real estate and flew a plane. Teaming up with two friends he co-founded a wood burning stove company in Vermont that grew to be the second largest private employer of the place.
Unfortunately. at age 46, Mitchell was burned beyond recognition in a terrible motorcycle accident. His body was burned more than 65 percent and necessitated 16 surgeries. His face became a quilt of multi-coloured skin grafts. He was unable to pick up a fork, dial a telephone or go to the bathroom without help. Yet he did not give up flying. However, in an accident 4 years later, the plane Mitchell was piloting crashed back onto the runway during takeoff, crushing 12 thoracic vertebrae and permanently paralysing him from waist down. He was confined to a wheelchair.
But Mitchell, a former Marine, never believed he was defeated. 'I am in charge of my own spaceship' he said. It's my up, my down. I could choose to see this as a setback or a starting point'. Six months later he was piloting a plane again!
With characteristic grit Mitchell worked day and night to regain as much independence as possible. He fought tooth and nail to save Crested Butte, Colorado, from mineral mining that would ruin its beauty and environment. Despite his shocking looks and physical challenges, Mitchell began white water rafting, fell in love and married, earned a Master's degree in public administration and continued flying and engaged in environmental activism and public speaking. He featured many times on well known TV shows and traveled far and wide, motivating people to overcome difficulties.
'Before I was paralyzed, there were 10,000 things I could not do' Mitchell says, 'Now there are 9,000 I can either dwell on the 1,000 I lost or focus on the 9,000 I have left. I tell people that I have had two big bumps in my life. I have chosen not to use them as an excuse to quit. You can step back, take a wider view and have a chance to say 'Maybe that isn't such a big deal after all'.
As Canfield and Hansen observe: It's not what happens to you, it's what you do about it.