unCUlturers: musings on organizational culture & development (and stuff about credit unions too)
You can fit in, or you can stand out. You can't have it both ways.

There are scores of people and groups out there who are more than willing to describe for you to a "T" how you're to act/look/think in any given situation. Perhaps they've been there since you were a wee lad or lass, encouraging you to fit in to a given mold.

Think of all the books, scoldings, fringe religious zealots, co-workers, employees, school systems, etc, who took (and take) great pains to establish for you exactly - and often it really is a precise thing - who or what or how you're supposed to be. It can be overwhelming. And paralyzing. What becomes abundantly clear is that we're really good at enforcing the status quo, and we're often fiercely loyal to it.

"This is what a corporate cog...er...individual looks like."

"This is what an executive looks like."

"This is what a Christian looks like."

"This is what an affluent kid looks like."

And so it goes.

But if you fit in too much, you won't do anything. Think of people who do or have done things. Great things. Remarkable things. Things that make a real difference. HIstory is full of such people (Jesus of Nazareth, Ghandi, MLK, etc). Rarely do they "fit" anywhere. They do great things precisely because they're willing to challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the box (though I still loathe that expression), innovate, and be, well, different. Isn't that the very essence of the word extraordinary? Something outside the ordinary?

What groups, churches, organizations, and communities need is just those people, but sadly (though not unpredictably) they're largely missing.

05/22/2010 22:04

I believe that most of the reason we stick to the staus quo is because we were never given permission to be anything else. Nobody told us it was okay to take risks and fail. It was okay to be different. It's okay to be men. (Wild at Heart- John Eldridge)It's okay to stand out and stand up for what we believe even when people dont agree. So we stick to the safe, to what we know. Sounds simple enough to break free of these bonds, but it can be extremely difficult to change these habits that have been drilled into our heads for most of our lives. I'm not saying this is the only reason we no longer have many remarkable people in Christianity, but this reason is what I have seen first hand as a culprit.

Deb Harrell
06/22/2010 14:47

I don't know if it has as much to do with 'permission' as it has to do with survival. The leading edge is most often a bleeding edge (Jesus, MLK, Ghandi). Trite but true expression. Our society typically only supports inclusion if those 'included' are exactly like all the rest. We tend to seek comfort at all costs and 'different' makes most people uncomfortable. If a person doesn't fit an expected standard, then he/she is relegated to the 'mis-fits,' risks being shunned, possibly loses financial and social status. Maybe it's biological/primal to fear things/people that are not like ourselves.
It's ironic--being different can ensure progress, growth and eventual survival but it also carries great risk of being stamped out before the really good stuff ever gets started.

06/23/2010 05:14

You're right in a sense, chappy, in that growing up in certain subcultures (be they religious, social, or whatever) can be very damaging, and can take years of intentional "detox," in a sense, to move past.

Deb, I think you're spot-on as well. There's always an element of risk involved in not fitting in. Which of course necessitates that there always be some degree of courage involved as well. Sticking with the examples you listed, you can certainly see that with all three men. Risk and courage will both be there, and you notice throughout history that individuals who struck out into the unknown, challenged the status quo, and conquered fear are often the ones able to accomplish uncommon, even extraordinary, results.

10/25/2010 01:09

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03/14/2011 00:52

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