Sunday, August 17, 2014

a week in the life of misfit

It has been a great week.

Notably because I was accepting myself as a misfit.  Really.

The previous week was disastrous, and when I went searching for reasons, I found out that I was not accepting the misfit in me.  In other words, I was repressing the misfit instead of allowing it to reveal itself in my everyday experiences, especially the ones shared with other people, familiar or not.

So just before the week started, I decided to consciously hand over more control to the misfit.  More precisely, it was about handing over more control of my operations to the misfit.  If I found myself feeling any resistance to the tasks that I had to perform for an operation tasks that were born out of my own imagination , I would simply tell myself, "But you are a misfit.  What you have to do does not fit.  It is not usual.  That is the very definition of misfit.  That is what a misfit does.  To do otherwise would be to fit in.  Besides, you know very well what happens when you do not accept the misfit."  And then, with that clarity in the mind, the resistance would start to dissipate.  The misfit would suddenly become more empowered and would end up completing the task.  And all would be well.  In fact, very well.  With the resistance a thing of the past, all that was left to feel was joy.  That is until the next operation came around.

Since there is usually a few ways to fit and numerous ways to not fit, I prefer being a misfit who can select carefully from the multitude of opportunities available.  This involves leaving out ways of being a misfit that provide little value.  For example, it "fits" to cross the road by walking forward when the pedestrian light is green, and sometimes even when it is red.  On the other hand, it does not fit to cross by walking backward when the same light is red.  But that is something a misfit could do.  Now is there value in doing that?  Perhaps yes, if it is linked to the risk of avoidable injury.  But I doubt that most people find value in that.  It seems to me that most people want to be alive or, better yet, comfortable.  So I think that it is generally best that those of us who choose to not fit do something of value.  And according to Simon Sinek, the standard of what constitutes doing something of value is our own.

Often, I try to add value as a misfit by demonstrating different ways in which we can connect with the people around us.  So this past week, I set out to do just that.

Whereas the majority of people in the Paris metro do not (yet) greet a nearby stranger, I said "Bonjour!" to someone in the metro upon entering and "Bonne journée !" when either I or the person was getting off, regardless of what time of the day it was.  I was not always successful, but there is always next week.

Whereas the majority of people where I work do not (yet) greet members of other teams sharing the open space with them, I went to go say hello to each person in the area in the late afternoon on Wednesday.  On some occasions, the interaction went beyond the initial hello.

Whereas the majority of people go to the supermarket to buy groceries, I showed up at one of the largest ones in my neighborhood in the early afternoon on Saturday to ask the staff for permission to stand inside by the entrance, just to say "Bonjour !" to shoppers as they arrived.  The cashier who I was speaking with was unsure about what decision to make, repeating that it was company policy that any activity involving solicitations take place outside the store.  While we waited (unsuccessfully) for the manager to come deliver a more definite answer, I tried to reassure her that that it was just an idea that had popped into my head and that I was interested in exploring.  She at least let out a smile when I told her that I tended to have ideas like that one.

These are all but a few examples of things that someone who sees himself as a misfit could do.  And I believe that they provide value.  To myself, and perhaps to some like-minded misfit out there.

In some way, being a misfit affords greater liberty than being someone who fits.  Just because there are much more ways to not fit than to fit.  It is like trying to fill a square hole when you have 100 pegs of distinct shapes.  Only a square peg will fit perfectly into a square hole.  The rest, including the rectangular peg, the triangular peg, and the round peg, will not fit.  As people that are looking to not fit, we are free to choose among the 99 pegs.  Now wouldn't it be great if we added value with the choice that we made?

Only when we paint the thing that doesn't fit bright red does it become a thing of beauty.

Simon Sinek

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