Every time I spend a bunch of time hanging out with highly-successful entrepreneurs, one thing strikes me, HARD: compared to what most of society calls “normal,” we’re an incredibly broken and dysfunctional group…
CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, authors and speakers, copywriters, the lot of us…
Most of us are diagnosable — and many of us have been diagnosed.
Some of us were kicked out of the system when we were young.
Some of us managed to hang on, but had seemingly inexplicable struggles.
Dyslexia. Aspergers. And, my personal diagnosis… ADHD.
When I hit 7th grade, I hit a wall, and I had no clue why until my mid-20s…
I was smart. Did well in school. When I focused and participated in classes, I did great. I wasn’t at the top of the class, but I didn’t struggle.
Until I got to Middle School. 7th grade.
Basically, when we still had to follow the rules, but we had a ton more independence. When we went from having a single teacher teaching all the subjects to a different teacher per subject, and going from classroom to classroom instead of staying in place.
In this environment, I still did well — most of the time.
But it started from the first semester. There’d be at least one class that I just wasn’t into. That I didn’t care to excel at.
And instead of doing well in spite of that, I started ignoring the work. Not because I couldn’t do it. But because I had other things that made me more excited.
In most classes, I could manage an A or a B. But in the classes I wasn’t excited about, I’d run a failing grade all semester for not doing the work, then pull it out in the 11th hour with a bunch of make-up work that would get me a B or C.
Middle school, high school. It continued.
Good grades in most classes. Failing grades in one or two, until I pulled it out in the end.
“A promising talent who needs to get his act together.”
That’s basically what they thought of me. Maybe it’s what they thought of you, too? It’s what they thought of a TON of people who went on to become successful business-builders.
Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad.
Jet Blue founder David Neeleman.
Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan.
Piranha Marketing founder and I Love Marketing co-host Joe Polish.
The list could go on and on. Many I know personally.
We don’t fit in — and so we fail to meet “normal” expectations in the “normal” system…
For me, I was able to finally figure out how to fit in, at least well enough to get through college with a B+ average. It took literally spending money out of pocket for me to take it seriously (this should be noted for professional development, too — anything you pay for, you take more seriously and will benefit more from).
Others simply drop out or get kicked out — a reject of a system that can’t deal with the fact that they think differently.
Too many end up feeling lost, broken. Because they don’t fit into a system that punishes anything that’s not normal.
Without an outlet for their different thinking, they turn to drugs and other forms of escape. Some turn to crime. Our prison population is over-populated with people who think differently — conveniently locked away where they won’t be a bother to society.
“There but for the grace of God go I,” I think. Or, if God isn’t your thing, damn good luck, fortune, providence, whatever…
A few, however, recognize that this different thinking is not a dysfunction — but a super-power…
Thinking different and not being constrained by having to fit into a narrow definition of “normal” is not only NOT a problem, it’s an opportunity.
The arc of human history, the development of modern civilization, the rise of technology that’s driven every major cultural and economic revolution since humans started putting seeds in the ground to grow food…
Every tiny step of progress that’s brought us today hasn’t been because someone has thought the SAME as what came before…
It’s because people decided to THINK and DO DIFFERENT.
It’s because of entrepreneurs — people like us, with so-called “broken” and “dysfunctional” minds that don’t fit into the box that the vast majority of society is willing and in fact happy to put themselves into.
Nothing wrong with living in the box. Nothing wrong with living outside of it.
It’s only wrong when you think — or are told by others — that something is wrong with you for following your natural path.
Let your freak flag fly, and you can change the world…
What makes you unique is what gives you your power. Your different thinking — your unique ability — is where you create value in the world.
You may produce or manufacture value by following someone else’s thinking. And you can make a living — sometimes a very good living — by doing that. Nothing wrong with that.
But if you have a unique way of thinking and can either put yourself into or create an environment, systems, support structures for thinking it up and making it real, that’s when you start to make changes in the world.
This is the difference between someone who takes this “dysfunction” and turns it into their super power, versus someone who is locked in an epic lifelong battle against a system that calls them broken for not fitting in.
If you’re a creator, you need producers and manufacturers around you.
You need people who can take your ideas, your intuitions, your innovations, your inventions, and create systems and processes around turning them into something tangible and scalable.
For me, it’s like letting me focus on the A classes, and being able to hand off success in the B, C, D, and F classes.
What if in school we recognized unique abilities, subjects and classes where students were naturally driven to get an A+ — because it was a perfect fit for their capabilities and natural drive — and let them drop every other class to double-down and become the best in the school at that one super-subject?
Maybe, double the time spent on the super-subject, and use other subjects as a time to search for anything else that moves them.
This is what happens at the highest levels of the education system — college, and especially graduate school.
But what if we did this before everyone who thought different had been kicked out of the system? What if we did this before they experienced so much failure that they were convinced they were the problem, not the system?
The bad news? I don’t think this is happening any time soon — even if it’s clear that what we’re doing right now is not working.
The good news?
Now, in your adult life, you can do this and be rewarded for it. This is what you’re doing when you’re an entrepreneur. You’re finding a problem in the market that stimulates and excites you to solve, and you’re going out there to create a unique solution
Connect the dots for the right market, work with people whose specialty is to systematize the solution, and make it real.
Then, find the next problem that stimulates you, and the next.
It’s not necessarily easy. Our world isn’t structured to deal with — much less take advantage of and maximize — your super power.
But it’s EXACTLY what you need to be doing. It’s exactly what’s going to create a bigger, better future for you and the whole world.
I’ve seen so many examples of this over the last couple days. I see it every time I hang out with high-powered entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and others who are making an impact and changing the world (while doing well for themselves, too).
It’s a friggin’ tremendous breakthrough.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,