Does it pay to be unique?
Recently, I was part of a conversation about individuality: what it means and looks like as well as its value in society. Early on in our discussion, a colleague mentioned the individuality between snowflakes and a vision popped into my head of lemmings jumping off a cliff.
In this era of corporate Reductions in Force (RIF’s), restructurings, and un/underemployment, does it pay to be unique?
Or is fitting the mold and subscribing to collective groupthink safe and what corporate America needs to get itself out of the economic funk?
As one who is midway through life, has gone through a RIF and is working diligently to ID the next great career “thing,” it’s tempting to be a lemming.
- To follow the masses.
- To have a resume that follows the same structure and proclaims the same basic accomplishments as countless others irrespective of background.
- To go back into the same profession as before regardless of fit.
- To leverage LinkedIn connections in the same impersonal way to help get a job – any job.
In short, do everything one can to efficiently pass all the HR screening criteria hoping to get an interview with a decision-maker. It’s the safe, albeit stale, play. It feeds the 401k until retirement time when there’s a chance to finally enjoy life after years of sacrifice.
Or is the better decision one about leveraging individuality? We are the collection of similar life experiences blended together in countless unique and special ways. How we each view challenges and opportunities delivers more creative and unique solutions than groupthink ever could.
Why be a lemming? Avoid going over that personal and business cliff. In the end, it is worth it to be fresh idea, the unique approach and the voice of reason. Contribute unique and individual ideas that enable you, as well as the corporation you may work for, to benefit multi-fold from your individuality. The business you want to build or the company you truly want to be a part of will value this spirit and reward you for the risk you chose to take.