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Dan Schawbel

Steve, this picture made my dad. I had to share it through Google Reader immediately because it's so important. I think web 2.0 makes it "cool" to be yourself. In the long-run if you stay true to brand YOU, you succeed. Relationships get turn when people reveal themselves late in the game.

Ellen Weber

Thanks Steve, what a powerful image -- it holds a book's worth of wisdom. Brilliance runs in the opposite direction from sameness or masses often.

So how does a person buy into "cool" by capitalizing on differences - when workplaces emphasize samenesss for the sake of profit? I'd love to hear more -- now that you tweaked our curiosity! Thoughts?

Steve Roesler

Dan and Ellen,

Glad to know this sparked your interest straight away. It's always a little scary doing something different:-)

Ellen, your question is certainly the provocative one. I'm going to give it some deeper thought and, hopefully, do an article on it here. Thank you for the brain-tweak (as always).

peter vajda

On the path of evolution, we move from being a willing and obedient member of the group to wanting to take control over our own lives. This is a necessary but difficult transition if we are to mature emotionally and spiritually.

Many are afraid of being themselves, of being unique and different. For these things stand against the old ways (read: neurological pathways in the brain representing beliefs and assumptions about how I have to be; fear in the body that represents “flight” or “freeze”, i.e., emotions that communicate "dare not to be different") that told us that conformity was right and individualism was wrong and are the unconscious scripts that run our lives…unbeknownst to many of us.

Focused on wanting and needing approval from others, and being accepted and popular, many seek the comfort of conformity to overcome their fear and feel more secure, safe and comfortable.

So, at times when folks conform, they don’t experience the fear of living. But they often lose the juiciness and new sense of adventure, discovery, daring and zest for life. Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to and experiencing this new sense of life, also discover they won’t die in the process.

As Dr. Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Wonderful photo...for those who choose not to conform, theirs is a one-off...not a sheet


Steve, the photo tells me we're our own best critic. People tend to be very hard on themselves - even more so than on others. When we do that we can truly slow our progress. Most of us need to learn to treat oursleves, especially when we get into a time when we feel we truly didn't pull it off. That's when a treat is most needed. One thing Galba Bright shared with me is "Treat Myself." Now that's a great tool to raise your emotional intelligence.

Dr. Seuss has it right, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." The only thing is to start focusing on possibilities because even a Seuss character down in the dumps goes nowhere.

Treating yourself, and making plans to adjust the next time around can raise your serotonin and give you hope to get moving and grooving again. ;-)

peter vajda

another thought..

interesting how the figures in the photo are so blurred...it's what happens when we conform to everyone else's notions of who we are, who we should be...we have no clear and sharp image of our True, Real and Authentic Self...having morphed into a blur of who we are...a blur that often leads to daily experiences of frustration, confusion, overwhelm, self-hate and loathing, and lack of clarity about "who I am." Not a fun way to get up in the morning or go to bed at night...living our days conforming...continually asking "Who am I?" can begin to bring clarity and focus to the picture

Steve Roesler


Ah, I'm pleased to see Galba's wisdom pop up on the screen of life again. I do miss him very much.

For those who don't believe you shouldn't be allowed dessert until you've finished all of your veggies, perhaps the serotonin blast will offer a more rational reason for enjoying the possibilities.

Steve Roesler


In a fast-moving world, one has to realize that if the personal photo is blurred, it's because the camera hasn't been held still long enough to get a clear picture.

peter vajda

Hi, Steve....you say, "...In a fast-moving world, one has to realize that if the personal photo is blurred, it's because the camera hasn't been held still long enough to get a clear picture."

or....one's "settings" are off, in which case the photo will be blurred no matter how long or how steady one holds it.

Jackie Cameron

"Focused on wanting and needing approval from others, and being accepted and popular, many seek the comfort of conformity to overcome their fear and feel more secure, safe and comfortable."

This is so true - and terribly sad. I have been there. Glad not to be now.

Steve Roesler


I think part of the long-term trick is making sure we don't beat ourselves up for having been there. (Hopefully) passing through that phase is a natural part of life.

Enjoyed the post about the terrific customer service near Marble Arch.


I love that image, it says so much.

Too often, it seems, we conform just for the sake of being like everyone else. But where does it leave us? Are we satisfied with life? Or, more importantly, does does our life sing the song we want it to?

I am at fault of doing this too much. I think we all do it to a degree. Finding the courage to walk in our own footsteps...what a wondrous (and elusive) thing...

Steve Roesler

Hey, Lance,

You're so right...we all do it to varying degrees. I suppose that we really start living when we literally break out of the mold that was never ours.

Thanks for stopping by...


One of the things I remember most clearly from high school was how all of the nonconformists conformed to a certain look: hippies, surfers, hodads... Another thing I think is remarkable is how much every one conforms and yet how much is invested in telling us conformists how individually different and "special" we are. Yet, isn't a certain amount of conformity useful? If our versions of reality didn't overlap to a significant percentage, how well would we each be able to relate to one another?

David Zinger

You confirmed that I won't conform.

Steve Roesler

Glad you brought that up, Robyn. I was thinking about it earlier today while re-reading the post and the comments.

I think there is a distinction to be made. In order to have a peaceful society or organization, there has to be enough common ground of beliefs, values, and aspirations to bind people together. In order to do that well, we have to be most effective in contributing to the health of that entity, we have be able to exercise the unique talents that each of us has been given.

When the level of conformity smothers one's ability to contribute in full, we become more dead than alive. For this reason, I have always found the issue of organizational "diversity" a bogus one. The issue is: "Can I be myself in this place?" If not, it doesn't matter what I came in with; it will be snuffed out like a candle that once lit the way.

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