Don’t Tell Me You Don’t Pee In The Shower And Other Oddly Human Things We All Do
We all have our crazy little things we think that are ours alone; the secret passion or goofiness we only let our closest family members see. That secret shame of thinking we are the only ones who do this. There is a great quote “If you are one in a million, statistically there are 7,200 more of you out there in the world.”
We all hide a part of ourselves to the outside world and create these odd little realities for ourselves that no one gets to see. In truth, we all do the same stupid stuff, we are all not that dissimilar, and if you do it, you are guaranteed not alone
How we got here
The Asch Conformity Experiments started in the 1950s and have been repeated over the last 60 years - always with similar results. In the study, participants believe they are taking a group eye test; everyone else is part of the experiment. When the rest of the group gives intentionally and obviously false information (saying one line is longer than another line when it is clearly shorter), only 25% of participants will disagree with the group. 3 out of 4 will believe complete strangers instead of trusting themselves because of the need to conform to the group.
In addition to the insights of the human condition, the US has been a melting pot of different cultures that changed entire personalities, names, and backgrounds to fit in and survive. Names like Blau became Blue; Madsen became Madison. Occupations like Weavers became Webers. This, coupled with the cultural roots of conformity established by our genesis and very special relationship with England, it is no wonder we lean toward blending in.
If you think you are different, think about what you wear and how you act at your office. Have you conformed to the unwritten codes within your space – how you talk, language you use, colors you wear, style of clothes, tone in which you speak, how your desk looks, etc.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that; In fact, that level of conformity helps us understand each other and communicate, build tribe mentalities, and helps establish structures that help us work through complex problems and tasks. Conformity is not, in itself, a bad thing. There is nothing inherently wrong with a need to belong and be part of the herd. It is just that now there is a new herd to which you can belong.
A Time For Human Personality
While conformity is all well and good, it is also a time for us to layer on our own unique personalities. Social communication has enabled our ability to find people who share similar passions, oddities, weirdnesses, and peculiarities that we did not know existed. There is an executive who secretly loves model trains and has an entire city in their basement, the man’s man warrior executive who like to collect sea glass, countless women fighting in a man’s world who are afraid to show a side of themselves because they feel they just can’t risk it – there is too much at stake for their survival. How many of you are total goofballs with your kids, yet you resemble a 19th century British banker when you are at the office.
We have a great opportunity to find similarities in others and to band together with people around our shared passions and ideas. As our social channels become more and more diluted with marketing messages and promotional material, we need to fight through that clutter and find our kindred spirits and openly share those passions. We need to find a way to let others around us to peek into our little weird lives and see who we really are.
There is clearly a time and place for all of this. This is all contextual: you probably don’t want to dance your way into a meeting singing Kelly Clarkson tunes for your new multimillion dollar financials client, but you may find that taking them out for karaoke is a better way to strengthen your relationship than a boring steak dinner. Just because you are now enlivened with enthusiasms to show the world who you are, doesn’t mean we abandoned all social pretext. But start to let your freak flag fly, show a bit of your goof, let your joy shine through, test the waters of embarrassment with those around you. Actively find people who share your passions and make those connections. We are free to not feel so alone anymore and a little less scared.
Even better, you will probably find it opens new doors for you, connects you with new people, and make you more accessible to those around you.
OK, here goes – I am Mr. style, mister hip, mister “now.” I . . . ok, I am trusting you . . . secretly love Willie Nelson and sing his songs out loud when I am alone. I do a great “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” in my car on my commute. I watch “Honeysuckle Rose” over and over again. Oh, and I dressed up in a life-sized Tiger costume even before I had kids (I love Halloween, what can I say).
Now you! (and then I will tell you more #oddlyhuman and little-known-things about me)
Originally posted on LinkedIn