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As a child, we were always keen to follow the pack.  To do whatever all the other cool kids were doing.  Sometimes that got us into trouble.  The grownup’s response was usually something along the lines of “If everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you do it to?”

Saint Patrick's Day Matches

Fast forward 20 years and we’re the grownups now.  But if we do something that isn’t “the norm”, we get ridiculed by our peers.  It’s like they’re saying “no, jump off the cliff, everyone is doing it”.  Well guess what; jumping off a cliff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

So, what am I getting at?  Well, there are a number of reasons for not doing what everyone else does.

Boost Your Career

Firstly, on a personal level, bucking the trend gets you noticed.  Now, be careful here.  You want to get noticed for the right reasons!  I would certainly not advocate going to work in nothing but your underwear, simply because everybody else wears cloths (or for any other reason come to that).  However, always wearing a tie in an office of non-tie wearers would be a good move.

To further your career, or improve your personal branding, you certainly don’t want to blend into the background of also-rans.  There is nothing to distinguish you from everybody else, so why would they pick you for a promotion over Mr Grey, sat in the corner with his open neck collar?

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From my (albeit short so far) career in Engineering, the workplace is full of soul-less workers, plodding along and it’s hard to distinguish one worker from the next.  However, there is always one bright star shining out from the gloom of grey.  And they stand out because they are different.  They might wear different clothes, they might be the ones burning with enthusiasm, they might be the ones that always takes time out to help others.

They key to standing out on a personal level is to find your strengths and work to them.  Exploit them, so that you become “The Guy Who……”.  The best way to find your strengths, I have found, is through Strengths Finder 2.0.  I’ll cover this more in a future article.

Improve Productivity

The other reason to buck the trend is to make advances in productivity.  I am a big fan of asking “why?”.  “Why do we do it this way?” is a great question to ask when you are looking to make improvements.  50% of the time, the answer is “Because we’ve always done it that way.”.  That’s not an acceptable answer to me.  That’s the same as jumping off a cliff.

Just because a certain tool has always been used to do a task, doesn’t mean other tools haven’t improved in the meantime.  Don’t be afraid to explore other options, which go against “what we’ve always done”.  It may take a good bit of confidence to buck the trend, especially if you work in a large organisation, but the worst that will happen is that your idea will get turned down.  However, you’ll then get known as “the guy who is looking for improvement”.

So, here I’ve provided 2 good reasons to buck the trend, so why not go ahead and have a look at how you operate.

If you are interested in discovering your strengths, as I mentioned earlier, then check out Strengths Finder 2.0.  I’ve done it, and use it to guide my engineering career in the right direction.  By using the link on this site, I will get a small commission and it costs nothing extra to you.  If you do, thank you 🙂

Image Credits
Sea Cliff Bridge by Alexander Kesselaar 
Saint Patrick Day Matches by Robert Fornal