As I write this blog, I'm sitting here listening to the recording artist, Childish Gambino's, latest project. Childish Gambino, a.k.a Donald Glover is a world renowned weirdo. But he's also really talented. This current album is in the realm of funky R&B. It's the type of music you can just groove to. He's also a talented hip hop artist, producer, director, and actor (he is the star and creator of the show Atlanta on FX, which is a great show).
I recently worked at a company where one of my coworkers was a weirdo. They didn't dress like the majority, talk like the majority, or share the same interests of the general majority. They were also smart as hell! They were collaborative, and shared their weirdo ideas generously. They were at times very difficult to work with, only because the way they thought was so different than they way my brain operated. And you know what, I'm so much better because of it. My thoughts and views were challenged, and most interactions forced me to think deeply, not only about my ideas, but about their perspective.
A weirdo, as defined by dictionary.com, is "an odd, eccentric, or unconventional person." The truth is, I think we all have a little weirdo in us, we are just so scared to let that side of us show. It's uncomfortable, because in our minds, it's seems as if it's too far outside of what we would consider normal. People might look at us funny, or treat us differently.
And you know what; that's probably true. There are going to be a lot of people who view you as a weirdo. Doing things that challenge the "norms" always make people uncomfortable. But that's none of your business (sips tea). How others feel about your weird side is their issue, not yours.
if you are ambitious, and you are looking to do big things, know that nothing big ever was created from someone who dreamt of the norm. Could you imagine living by candlelight, and someone talks to you about harnessing the power of lightning? Or someone saying their going to fly one day? Or someone saying they will get people to use their own cars to drive strangers around like a taxi. My point is that most weirdos have ideas that stretch the mind, and want to do things that people think are impossible. That's what companies need to grow; it's also what societies need to advance.
However, if you are a weirdo who has no ambitions to change the world, your effect on your everyday world can still never be understated. My experience with my coworker taught me that. They were able to do great things in their own right. They had an effect on the company because they had the courage to challenge the norm, and share their weirdo ideas. Not all were embraced, but those that were, really helped contribute to the organizations success. Beyond that, I'm thankful that they forced me to stretch how I thought.
I think the workplace needs more weirdos that challenge the norms in an effort to make the organization succeed, and
to push the limits of the individuals in the organization. Kind of like college; where the goal isn't to tell you what to think, but how to think.
MY HR Guy Take
It's easy for me to sit here and tell people to let their weirdo side thrive. It's harder than that. It starts with being comfortable with who you are. Embracing all of who you are, including those crazy thoughts. Be comforted in knowing that we all have a little weirdo in us, and those in the workplace who are your allies, likely have it too. Then begin sharing your weirdo ideas with them. Some will scoff, but some will lean in. They will want to know more, and add to your thoughts.
Even if they don't get it, if they show interest and engage (they may even respectfully challenge your ideas), that's a great place to be. However, this all begins with making sure you are able to do the basic functions of the jobs with no issue. I've learned that all of the extra stuff is great, and that extra stuff is what truly makes a difference. But most people are only receptive to it once you've shown the skill to do the basic job.