Photo Credit: milan6,

Look at a stagnant family and you’ll see this painted on the wall. Enter a bureaucratic company and you’ll smell this in the air. Tune your ears to the subtle messages and you’ll hear this in any organization or groups of people that is stuck in their comfort zone. Hardened conventionality, conformity – the unwritten law of every unprogressive entities.

In a typical classroom, there will be one or two students who are not “normal”, students who are so itchy in questioning the norm. “Why we’re doing that? Is there any better way? Something faster. Something better.” They might have impassioned interest in physics (Sir Isaac Newton), computers (Michael Dell), engineering (Steve Wozniak), investments (Warren Buffet), practicality (Benjamin Franklin) or others areas they think as the most invigorating. Just be with them in few minutes and you’d feel that they’re different! Or should I say that they’re simply more honest with their individuality.

But exuding uniqueness is not a very welcome act. Frequently, some “wiser” people would tell the non-conformer that he needs to be straighter in his thinking, nudging him away from his hyperactive imagination into “reality”. But is it right for authority figures to do that? Are they really concern about the individual or more concern about their own insecure egos? Are they just fitting the innovator into the box of conformity? “Don’t go above your (my) limits! You’re one of us, remember? You just don’t innovate. You just won’t.”

Those people who think that it can’t be done must not discourage those who are trying to make it done. As arrogant it might sound, some individuals are thinking of changing the world! They are the round pegs in the square holes, people who are ambitious enough to try bending reality with their imagination.

Don’t look down at a nerdy boy who can’t stop thinking about programming languages and algorithms, a boy who choose to create a computer game than play one. That kind of boy can be one of the programmers turned into CEO of international companies like Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page of Google, and Jack Dorsey of Square (he’s also the co-creator of Twitter).

Don’t push a boy so in love with physics to be more involved in ball games. He’s more attracted to the theories about the movement of the ball than dribbling it! That child can be the next international symbol of genius – Albert Einstein, the possessor of the mind behind the general theory of relativity.

Don’t feel insecure when a mere child is telling you about the books he’s currently reading for the week. That child can be the next igniter of revolution in the book industry, like Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, the largest online book retailer and the company that popularized eBooks with the Kindle.

Don’t cowardly employ your dogmatism in trying to silence a young man who creatively questions the doctrines of the established church. Without that kind of bravery and thirst for real truth, the Reformation wouldn’t happened, protestant Christians wouldn’t be here proclaiming the Gospel. Who made the revolution sparked? The three individuals labeled as “heretics”: Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin.

Don’t ever try to discourage a young woman with bewitching imagination in writing novels by saying that it can’t pay the bills. She might be the next author behind a bestselling series that inspires millions of people to believe in magic again, like J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter which made her the first billionaire author in history. I think a billion dollar can pay the bills.

Don’t try to “fix” an introverted child who’s more familiar with the wisdom of famous philosophers and poets than the latest gossip of his neighbor. A child who lived with and breathed the pages of books in his every waking hours, making him an “old soul”. That child can be like C.S. Lewis, a man with wisdom “equals to angels”, be a great defender of his faith and help millions of people understand the deeper and wider implications of Christianity.

Never laugh at a child who’s aspiringly declaring that he would create the next big thing in technology, a child with intentional disregard for rules, relentless passion on simplicity, arts and electronics. He might have the visionary genius that can make him the next leading proponent of technological innovations that would improve millions of lives, a feat made by Steve Jobs while he’s still alive.

Like these individuals who embraced their eccentricity and followed their inner voice no matter what the outer voices are saying, we can all be the “exceptions” in a world full of people who are so in love with their generic identity and hardened conventionality. Never despise a young person who thinks that he can change something, because all innovations our world has ever seen are made by people like that - people uncomfortable with the status quo, people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world. They are the awakened trailblazers, the ones who lead others to better paths.


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