Embrace Your Inner Odd

725. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I am in Holland for the next 7 days and since I didn’t get my act together and get 7 posts ahead, this will be archive week at The Direction of Intention. This was originally post 461.

In a recent post I used the phrase, “embracing your inner odd” and it filled the mailbag with letters of recognition. Apparently, my odd-tribe is much larger than I realized!

Secretly, I’ve believed for years that despite all appearances to the contrary, we really desire to be on the island of misfit toys. Despite all the suits and ties, all the career-track choices and ubiquitous McThought thoughts and pressuring peers, it is our square wheels that make us special. It is our missing buttons that make us unique. Too much similarity and we start to disappear. Therein lives the dragon. To appear, to be in view, we must show our oddity.

We want to fit in. It is among the strongest impulses in the human canon of desires. E.O. Wilson suggests that belonging sits atop the list. Banishment makes us food for lions; it is our pack-ness that makes us safe. Fit in or perish. Odd wrinkles brows and makes bystanders avert their eyes to prevent any embarrassing association. Therein lives the opportunity. To show the odd is to upset the norms.

Throughout history the centers of great innovation have been cultural crossroads. Where differences cross paths innovation thrives. Difference knocks us out of our comfortable assumptions. It’s the oddity that joggles new perspectives and opens the door to “what if?” Suppressing difference pours water on the fires of invention. Eliminate the odd and uniformity, stasis, and stagnation are your reward.

The inner odd provides the same service to your personal crossroads. Muting yourself, gagging your inner odd, stifles your possibilities. It limits your view. The comic, the eccentric, the alarming trickster within is meant to keep you from taking yourself too seriously so you can open. As someone once told me, “Humor is the path to confidence.” Your inner odd is a jester whose gift is to question your attachments and harass your assumptions so that you might put down your rulebook and see the possibilities.

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