One of the paradoxes of life is that being "normal" or
"reasonable" often means settling for ordinary results,
while success requires that we be different and sometimes,
uncomfortable. By definition, high achievers are not
All of us have been pressured to conform at one time or
another. We've been told to "sit still" in school, to "stop
interrupting" or "not make a scene." We've been criticized
for dressing, speaking, acting or being "different." The
not-so-subtle pressures to accept conventional norms are
powerful. "To get along, you have to go along."
Well. Madame Currie, Florence Nightingale, Helen Keller,
Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Oprah Winfrey are not
admired because they were "average" people! Thomas
Jefferson, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Franklin
Roosevelt and Bill Gates were not "conventional" people.
Abraham Lincoln is widely regarded as the greatest American
president, yet the thing he was most known for among his
friends was his obnoxious refusal to quit running for
office, even after he lost thirty-two elections! That is
definitely NOT normal!
One of the things that has made America great is their love of
individuality. Americans have always had a healthy respect for their
"mad inventors." The Wright brothers thought they could fly!
Henry Ford thought he could put a car in every garage. Ben
Franklin flew a kite in a thunderstorm (didn't his mother
tell him to come in out of the rain?). Mary Kay thought she
could make a living selling make-up, while Mrs. Field tried
to support her family selling cookies! That's just crazy!
Now, we need to tell the truth here. A lot of crazy ideas
really are. . .crazy. We've all had brilliant ideas in the
middle of the night, only to find in the clear light of day
they weren't worth pursuing. I've made many fortunes while
taking my shower, only to find them going down the drain
when I tried to tell my partners about them. Just because an
idea is weird doesn't mean it's wonderful.
But many great ideas (and the fortunes) have been lost
because the genius who thought it up was shy. Or lacked
courage. Or was intimidated by someone's comment that, "You
can't do that!"
All great ideas are crazy before they become brilliant.
Alexander Bell thought he could talk over copper wires, and
even worse, Marconi thought he could send messages through
thin air! When David Sarnoff wanted to launch the first
radio network (now NBC), one investor ridiculed him by
asking, "Who would pay to send a message to no one in
particular?" Jules Verne thought people might one day travel
under the ocean or, even more ridiculous, fly in outer
space. How crazy was that!?
If you can read this, you are a genius. You have thousands
of wonderful, creative, brilliant ideas--most of which
you've never pursued. And that's a shame.
Success is not achieved by being "ordinary." Rather, success
is the predictable result of following your own path and
trusting your own instincts, whether or not your neighbors
One of my heroes, Henry Thoreau, recommended "march to beat
of your own drummer."
Franklin Roosevelt was in a wheelchair, and who ever heard
of a cripple running for President? Barbra Streisand wasn't
"pretty enough" to be a star, and Elvis was so provocative
he was banned in communities across the country. Bill Gates
dropped out of Harvard to "write code." Steve Jobs was not
an easy guy to be around. And who would have thought a bi-
racial kid from Indonesia could become President?
To achieve your unique version of success, follow your
heart. Yes, you'll want to learn from others. Yes, you'll
want to obey the law and applicable regulations, but aside
from those things, you become great by being exactly and
This is a call for more eccentrics, more individuals, more
creative, unrepentant adventurers. Go where your heart and
your instincts lead you. Instead of following the "normal"
highway, blaze a new path and leave a trail for others to
Written By Walcott Braide