Celebrate Your Strangeness

I was engaged in some rapid channel changing and heard a speaker at the Michael Jackson memorial service telling Jackson’s children not to believe that their Dad was strange.  Huh?   This speaker meant well but you and I both know that Jackson was about as strange as one could be. iStock_000006278956XSmall

And his strangeness made him rich.

Being strange and having the courage to express your strangeness is a very good thing.

We tend to revere oddness and weird exceptionality in our celebrities but at the same time caution against standing out from the crowd.

But only good things can happen by being strange.

We need to embrace our strangeness, bring it forth and express it.  In fact our strangeness is the business edge we’ve looking for.

Shopping malls make me want to puke.  Their sameness is depressing.

How likely are you to want to do business with the most common, normal, regular, standard and usual option you can find?

Wouldn’t you rather invest in a relationship with someone astonishing, astounding, atypical, bizarre, curious, different, eccentric, exceptional, extraordinary, fantastic, far-out, marvelous, rare, remarkable, wonderful, or unheard of?

Expressed strangeness can be very good for business.  I understand that many of you struggle declaring a niche.  How about choosing a niche that spotlights your peculiarities?

Here are some of my most sincere wishes.

I wish that we could only fit in by standing out.

I wish it were forbidden to allow fear to stop you.

I wish it were illegal to settle for less than you could be or have.

I wish we were all encouraged to embrace our strangeness from cradle to grave.

Have you been holding back for fear of not fitting it?

We all fall prey to it in one way or another.  I want to encourage you to celebrate your authentic strangeness.

If you’re self-employed, your strangeness could be the only thing that will save your ass.

But strangeness can be a shy, odd cousin who’s been kept in the basement far too long.  You may have to coax it out gradually.  Here are a few hints on how to invite your strangeness out.

1). What do you deeply care about, so much so that you’re willing to take a stand for it?  Identify that and you’ll be better able to identify the specific strangeness that could give you your edge in the marketplace.

2). What eccentricities do you secretly admire about yourself?  If you thought that your pot of gold were at the end of the rainbow of utter transparency –  would you reveal yourself fully?

3). Where do you tend to say screw being cautious, push societal limits and take concepts to the extreme?  Here’s where your big balls are found and we all know the glory that can be seized with a big set of balls.  Don’t fret, if you can identify this extreme it’s a given that you have the strengths and capacity to pull it off.

4). What abnormalities are you curiously attracted to?  Within this area of singular fascination could be the personal breakthrough you’ve been yearning for.

Your commonness is killing you. Being common is boring and unattractive. It’s hard for us to notice the normal you.

Please be your strange self and we’ll love you even more.

In your comment will you answer one of the questions above?  I’ll get us going. Here’s my answer to number 3.

I tend to take authenticity to an extreme wildness.  I abhor appropriateness because I think it’s boring conditioning.  Thus I’ve been called too raw, too direct and even obnoxious.  But I love my raw, fearless nature because it allows me to steadfastly champion my coaching clients who want to blaze trails of their own.

Comments

  1. Marty Marsh says:

    Tom,

    One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m always attracted to the people you are describing. Anyone who just puts themselves out there, just being who they are, and telling it like it is for them, are the people I admire the most and want to be like the most.

    And yet, I find I hold myself back, knowing this is entirely because I’m afraid of offending someone. So I’ve got some work to do and this post has inspired me.

    So I’m off to ponder my strangeness!

    Best,
    Marty

  2. You’re a great writer Tom. What’s wrong with being different? Do people seek to be the same so that they can fit in and be unnoticed rather than stand out and be ridiculed and liked? When you fit in, nothing happens to you. No unique opportunities come your way because you’re nothing special. You’re like everyone else. When you’re strange you’re take the risk of being ridiculed, but your chance for great opportunities dramatically increases.

    Be fearless and be strange. That is the key to success.
    .-= John´s last blog ..How to Kiss Your Boredom Goodbye =-.

  3. Tom,

    I absolutely adored this post!! Finally, someone has the courage to tell us to embrace our strangeness.

    Wow, picking a question to answer isn’t easy. I suppose one of my eccentricities is talking aloud to myself… well, that’s not exactly true. Actually, I talk to my dog and cat, the squirrel who climbs on my porch screen, the birds taking a bath, my computer and basically anything. This is probably why I now work at home…by myself:~)

    By the way, my favorite line is “If you’re self-employed, your strangeness could be the only thing that will save your ass.” This made me laugh because it’s so true!
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Story Photo: What’s at the top of the stairs =-.

  4. I count as one of my major blessings in life that I went to a high school that focussed on the arts. In that environment, the worst thing you could call someone was a ‘conformist.’ Blue hair, no hair, all manner of dress, ideology and self expression were common. So your first wish- that we could only fit in by standing out was manifest there. And it was a remarkable place, filled with remarkable people. And despite the stereotypes of flaky artist types, nearly all of them turned out to be productive citizens- though in many cases not via the traditional routes. And though it may have been diminished by age, or circumstance, nearly all of them/us still embrace our strangeness!
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..Pop Quiz #9841- I passed! =-.

  5. And I almost forgot to mention… I have yet to find an environment that was more tolerant and even supportive of all kinds of difference: race, class, sexual orientation, etc. Coincidence? I think not!
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..Pop Quiz #9841- I passed! =-.

  6. What weirdness do I secretly admire about myself? I like my sense of humor and the way I can talk to just about anyone. It comes in really handy with my teaching. I find the more authentic I am, the happier I am too. Also the better teacher I am. When I am fully engaged without distraction, I am wild and so on target with my teaching. In my personal life I find the same is true. You talked about the pot of gold? I believe that being authentic in my weird sort of way is the pot of gold!

  7. Hi Tom. Funny you should post this today. I was reflecting on this after receiving a comment on my blog that said something to the effect that many of my posts approached “problem-solving” in an odd way.

    The old me would have reacted to this but instead I was glad. The best part is that I’m becoming clearer on my niche as a life coach and this comment further confirmed it.

    I was fascinated by MJ’s strangeness (a bit sad by the plastic surgery he had done), but I appreciated him for his talent and uniqueness.

    I wonder how many people have the same secret uniqueness? If we are confident about it, it comes across as somewhat “normal”. If we are wimpy about it, it is judged negatively. It all comes down to attitude.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Roaming with the Metaphor =-.

  8. We are all weird, we just need to let it out. You are right. Our strangeness is a unique selling point. Havi of the FluentSelf has a rubber duck as a business partner. She uses it as a way to shield herself from the pretenders (the people that wouldn’t like her anyway).
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Ha´s last blog ..Reader Questionnaire 2009, Quick Tip and Mini-Contest =-.

  9. John – Very good point. I also have seen the connection between uniqueness and opportunity. One must stand apart from the masses so the right clients can be drawn to the connection.

    Sara – Have you discerned the value in talking to those critters? I’m betting there exists a unique value point in that practice.

    Liz – Your high school sounds wonderfully supporting. I’ll bet that support gave folks the time and energy to focus on their art rather than playing silly games and worrying about their survival. Interesting point that embracing ones strangeness makes one more accepting of others.

    Marty – Welcome. I bet in some areas you already support your strangeness. But you’re right – it would be a very good practice for you to express especially in the areas where you know you’ve been holding back. Take off the mask and let it rip – we want to experience the whole you!

    Laurie – You definitely embrace your weirdness and it’s very endearing to see you do so. Look how your imagination has taken your teaching to the outer limits of what’s possible. We are grateful for your gift.

    Davina – I love that you’re coming into your own. You’ve gotta coach like only you can coach. That’s what I love about our
    profession – when we put it authentically out there the right clients find us.

    Karl – Yep Havi is a great example. Often folks are more attracted to what the duck has to say. 🙂 Opportunities abound to not only sell according to our uniqueness but to create and deliver in one-of-a-kind ways as well.

  10. I love this post, Tom! As an artist, I do tend more to the strange.

    I prefer the term “eccentric” – sounds ritzier! 😉
    .-= Keena´s last blog .. =-.

  11. Hello Tom, recently came across your blog…absolutely love it. Particularly enjoyed this last post on “strangeness”. I’ve certainly tested the waters in the corporate environment over the years by bending the rules for self and clients, got in trouble some from ‘this is the only way we do things people’, and other times it lead to more opportunity which was of course welcomed. It is less stressful to be who you are, embrace or let go what others think and keep moving. I love my ‘strangeness’, all of them!

    All great questions you asked.

  12. Tom – A hearty amen to embracing your “uniqueness”. We were talking about this the other day. There’s a local attorney who records his own radio ads. Now, down here in the “Sunshine State”… suing people is like a cottage industry and the lawyers are advertising ALL the time.

    However, this attorney is “strange”. Most noticeably, he speaks with a horrible speech impediment. Had I been his marketing director, I would have recommended using a “lawyer spokesperson”… and I would have been DEAD WRONG!!!

    Turns out, that “distinctness” is working for him!!!

    People in the area KNOW this guy. I mean, of all the lawyers advertising on radio and television – this guy’s speech impediment makes him stand out from the crowd.

    MJ always “stood out” from the crowd. So does Donald Trump. They’re both terminally WEIRD yet you know exactly who I’m talking about.

    “Being common is boring and unattractive. It’s hard for us to notice the normal you.”

    AMEN!!!
    .-= Kathy | Virtual Impax´s last blog ..Social Media: It’s a Moral Imperative =-.

  13. Shopping malls, and airports! Such a shame to have a stopover in a new country and the airport tells you Nothing.

    Strangely, speaking of strangeness, in architecture I have had a hard time standing up to the fashion of, let’s call it post-modern expressionism when I like to play with my take on traditional styles. You’d be surprised how strong the opposition is to this approach within the field.
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..How I got here part 2: Scientific rationalism =-.

  14. Sherry – Welcome and thank you for inspiring us by embracing your strangeness. It takes a certain courage that you have found.

    Keena – Eccentric is fine as well. In fact I like it more as I age. It has a sense pf mystery to it.

    Kathy – I love your attorney story. Here in Pittsburgh we’ve been blessed with really unique sportscasters. Myron Cope was one who sounded liked screeching records but we love his idiosyncrasies.

    Hillary – But stand up you do, I’ll bet. The masses always try to homogenize everything. Screw em. Be who you are, all the way!

  15. Green Energy says:

    Hello, I think you have one of the nicest blogs around. MJ was a strange strage fellow, but legendary as well. RIP Mike

  16. Ahh…Tom. Here it is again. Late at night and I am ready to head to bed, but the universe (or the blogiverse) called out and said to go to your blog first…I am so glad I did.
    My fascination is with perspective…it is with Proust (I hope it is Proust-it’s late) and the concept that it is not about new landscapes but in having new eyes.
    That is where I feel so captivated by my work researching levity. I am utterly fascinated by the idea that it does not matter what happens to us in life as long as we choose to see it with eyes of possibility and hope.
    And the more I go here…the more radical I am getting. In fact, in two weeks I will be presenting to a rather impressive group of entrepreneurs and asking them to speak in gibberish for 5 minutes all for the point of listening to the present moment rather than their own inner monologue. This excites me so much…because I think by being present we can affect change in ourselves and in our perspective.
    wow that was a long answer….of course I loved your post Tom-when do I not?!
    .-= Katie West/The Levity Coach´s last blog ..15 Minutes with The Levity Project: A Laughter Flash in Portland, Maine =-.

  17. You wrote: “Thus I’ve been called too raw, too direct and even obnoxious.”

    Ahh…..a kindred spirit. 🙂

    Other people may not accept our strangeness (ok, my lovely weirdness) but honoring who we are NOW is the best gift we can give ourselves. Giggle On! Put it out there, shake your bum, speak your peace and let it flow.

    Methinks I’m a’brewin’ a new post and Celebrate Strangeness is my new muse.

    yes, Yes, YES!
    .-= Christa´s last blog ..Is it Depression or lost Mojo? =-.

  18. Green Energy – Thank you please come and compliment again. 🙂

    Katie – You are indeed an inspiration of wildness. I remember fondly participating in my first group laughing meditation. It was wildly contagious and very different form the norm. Sounds like your work is as well. Let it rip!

    Christa – Watch out if we’re ever at the same party. That would be a ball! Let me know about your post. I’ll visit and say something weird. 🙂

  19. I just love this post Tom, as my mother used to say to me when I was growing up- ” Anything to be different”

    So I have continued on usually being different and loving it.

    I used to paint fabris and makes clothes for men and woman who liked to stand out from the crowd.
    .-= Suzie Cheel´s last blog ..Law of Attraction Carnival #53 =-.

  20. Suzie – Thank goodness your Mom’s comments more encouraged you than squashed your originality. Keep at it – we all need to be inspired by your weirdness. 🙂

  21. seanstargazer says:

    I have never been more inspired to celebrate my strangeness! All of my life I have felt the need to apologise for every bloody quirk I possessed. This, of course, led other people to feel free to share their suggestions/advice for my improvement.

    None of these suggestions were very specific. Nor did they prove to be particularly helpful for me in the short and long term.

    However, I felt I had to listen to others and implement their suggestions because there was something wrong with me. Maybe they knew how to fix me! I wanted to be open-minded!

    Now I know that there’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need fixing! And none of those suggestions would have worked for me anyway if there were something wrong with me.

    Now I wonder why I wasted so much time?!

    Oh well…

  22. seanstargazer says:

    I’m strange. Are you strange, too?

    I talk to myself out loud as well. Also talk to objects, animals, etc. And I keep a running stream of consciousness dialogue out loud about whatever I am thinking/feeling at the moment. I burst into song in public places for no reason. Refer to strangers and friends alike as Sweetpea. Don’t give a toss about trying to fit in with people who obviously don’t like me. And I speak my mind whether or not my point of view is popular. Second to lastly, I dance in the middle of the pavement if music is playing and I like the song (always in public).

    Oh, I put my needs first, and follow my spirit. Even if my spirit leads me to do things that appear crazy to everyone else around me. When it comes to following my spirit, the quote below says it well:

    “If, at first, an idea doesn’t seem crazy,
    then there is no hope for it.”

    ~ Albert Einstein ~

    I probably have dozens more, but here’s the short list.

  23. Sean – Welcome! I love your comments and your delightful ‘strange’ expressions. I’m also a break out in song kind of guy. I also love seeing how many smiles I can elicit from grumpy strangers. I’m glad you are through apologizing for your uniqueness. Let ti shine my friend – we need you to be as strange as you can be.

  24. seanstargazer says:

    Thanks, Tom! Love the website and your blog.

    I have a friend who enjoys spending time with me because I can be serious one moment and then burst into song immediately the next.

    When I was in hypnotherapy school, I used to make people laugh all the time because I would express my thoughts out loud instead of just thinking them.

    Of course, in hypnotherapy school, everyone would seemed to delight in me. I had one woman tell me that her eldest daughter was like me; she called her daughter a “kick in the pants.”

    Oddly enough, she was one of the few people who “saw” me. She knew I had no interest in changing myself to suit anyone else. I guess I broadcast that message vibrationally without being aware of it. I’m glad she saw that and appreciated it.

    I look forward to being part of a community of people who celebrate their strangeness.

  25. seanstargazer says:

    Did I mention that I also speak of myself in the third person?

    I didn’t? Well, I do!

  26. Hi Tom,

    I really enjoyed this post. I always respect people who go beyond appropriateness and really speak their minds.

    I will answer your question number 2. I don’t know if it’s an eccenticity as such but it is sometimes viewed as one. I’m insanely curious about everyone, and when I meet people for the first time, really, it’s like I want to take people by the shoulders and say “cut the crap, tell me all about you!” But giving people a Spanish Inquisition isn’t very socially acceptable 🙂 (And neither is staring at people on the train.)

    But I guess the curiosity is what serves me well in the career of intuitive because it motivates me to get under the surface and read people.
    .-= Anna Conlan – Healing and Insight´s last blog ..What is the Energy Body? & How to Read it =-.

  27. Anna – That’s beautiful! I bet you can shake them to some greater degree. You just dig depth and realness from folks. If we were closer geographically I’d love to have a coffee with you so we could play bare your soul in five minutes or less. Thanks for this lovely picture of your strangeness.

  28. While I don’t know that I would have really come up with this thought on my own, there is definitely merit to what you say. Standing out from the crowd is how many people have become noticed, even people like Napoleon were considered strange by their contemporaries in many ways.
    .-= Adrian´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

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