April 21

Organizations organize. (It’s in the name!) An organization can only operate with predictability and stability when there is some degree of conformity throughout its systems. Thus, incentives are often established that encourage people to aim for targets that match established organizational norms and that fit the desired (and expected) culture.

Unfortunately, this tendency toward conformity often rounds off the rough edges of early-career creative pros and managers. Their unique quirks and qualities are pruned so that they can become more of what’s expected or “the kind of person who succeeds around here.” When this happens, the organization loses some of the qualities that lead to innovative breakthroughs because it is quieting voices of dissension and fresh perspective. The employees lose because they are being asked to conform to a norm that may not be reflective of their true aptitudes and passions.

Remember that many of the most celebrated leaders, artists, writers, marketers, and entrepreneurs in the marketplace today were once questioned or even shunned for their “rough edges” and quirks. Now, those are the very qualities that we celebrate them for.

Don’t allow others to round off your rough edges.

The quirk that people criticize you for now might be the very thing they celebrate you for later.

Is there a quality that makes you unique that you often feel the pressure to diminish or get rid of to fit in?

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