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The cliched ‘One size fits all’ mindset

History repeats itself. A trendline that has appeared in the past will most certainly occur again in the exact same pattern after a breakout. This is how we were raised, brought up, reared, schooled and taught - this is how we grew up, so this is how you will too. This is how it works and no other way. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and only then do we get to 10.

Some very obvious looking statements, aren’t they? How I wish they weren’t and rather that we all found something wrong about them or questioned their veracity. We have been so mechanically and rigidly trained right through our growing years and beyond, to take whatever is taught or thrust upon us, that we consume it, internalize it so deeply and then swear by it, propagate it and not just stop there but push it down other people’s throats for generations and in some cases even reprimand other sections of the community who do a certain thing in some other way. We love to call ourselves “ONE___”, one family, one organization, one nation, one world – but do we really accept, adopt, imbibe and appreciate the diversity that enhances the unity or do we really just put on a façade to be accepting of everyone’s differences, as long as our way reigns supreme and emerges superior.

Since when has individual brilliance, or a person’s unique trajectory, life path, sparks of brilliance – become a mere commodity, that can be laid bare on a conveyor belt and dealt out almost interchangeably? Why have we forgotten that no two people are the same, even siblings can be poles apart and so could twins be starkly different as night and day, then how is it that we scale-up, measure and evaluate scores of people by the same yardstick and adjudge them based on our limited abilities as superior or inferior?

Imagine giving Leonardo Da Vinci a week’s deadline to complete ‘The Last Supper’, or lighting a fire under the Wright Brothers’ backsides asking them to make their airplane take off sooner – would it really work the way it did, without the creative liberties or the freedom to work something out the way it needs to be? Hell, Rome wasn’t built in a day too, then why do we expect inhuman targets to be achieved in ridiculously tight timeframes, squeezing and sucking out each drop of blood, sweat and tears that a poor soul can muster to meet the wishes of his manager, boss or master. As a corollary to this, why is it that we subject ambitious and free birds to cages, and put stumbling roadblocks on their runways on which they yearn to rush upon and take their flights of fantasy? There’ll always be a chosen few, who would not be willing to be restrained by the norms, the pace and the shackles of those around them and would be mightily capable of outpacing, outsmarting and outthinking, even if not so much as outwitting them and going miles ahead were they to be not ties up by the ropes of our conventional thinking and operating.

If one is willing to be an all-rounder, willing to put in that extra mile at training, be the star he/she was born-to-be, harness the multiple experiences, skillsets and talents he/she does possess and revolutionize how things are done or the pace and style in which they are done, why is it that we in the guise of lack of experience, or processes and systems, or hierarchies, destroy this zeal, kill this desire, douse this fire and prevent him/her from going higher and higher? Had we stuck to processes and not allowed outliers change the course of history, we would have still just barely stepped out of the stone ages. It is the dreamers, the believers, the doers, who need to be given that extra push, that helping hand, or that tree-branch such that they take the leap of faith and take not just themselves, but the entire group, community, organization or even species forward, instead of those who wait for nature to take its own course and perish waiting for things to happen.

Ironically, if we are to really see the hidden meaning behind the quote – history repeats itself – it is that such breakout moments are what it takes to make a leap forward into the future, it is that always in history, as in the present and so too in the future, it is an outlier, a blip, a glitch or a misfit who brings about the much needed change and either shakes up the status quo or rebalances the weights in places where things are amiss.

Whether a Ruler who broke all precedents and changed the course of history, or a leading Bollywood star who redefined how the game is played. A political leader who rattled age old practices or a newbie whose technical prowess simply changed the dynamics of communication world over. Even closer to our own lives and not just these glorified examples, who is the one you are more likely to gravitate towards, the line-up of typical micromanaging bosses who wouldn’t let you err even a single time, has set rules and timelines for not just tasks, but even your progress, or a more liberal, new school, free handing mentor who would let you experiment, learn the ropes, make your mistakes, back you up and celebrate your ascent up the ladder?

Analogies are innumerable and can endlessly keep flowing through my veins, onto this screen, but more importantly, the need of the hour is to get away with this age-old mindset of ‘one-size fits all’, because it never did, doesn’t and never will; all it will do is temporarily put a lid on things, but only till the tipping point is reached and once that is breached, it’ll not just blow the lid through the roof, but also break the utensil in use for all the umpteen cover-ups. About time, we see things for what they are, people for who they are, put in more effort in understanding each one’s peculiarities, leverage their strengths, work upon their weaknesses and in turn do justice to each one’s abilities, creating value for all involved, both, optimally and efficiently.

Lastly, just as the name and the ethos of the site suggests - it is really okay to be a misfit - it is more often than not, our uniqueness, our added spice, sharp edges or heightened sensitivities that often keep the conventional world in balance and keep it ticking without anyone noticing! On that note, The Eternal Misfit - signing off!

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