The non-conformity trade-off

I’m pretty comfortable being the odd one out. That’s a good thing, given how often I find myself being odd.

I was in such a situation last week. The details aren’t important, but when I recognised that I was deviating from the norms around me I became aware of what was happening in my brain.

conformityThe first observation is that I was asking ‘Why?’ Why was I there? Not in an existential sort of way, but what was the intended benefit. I realised that no-one had explained the purpose of the event, and it wasn’t evident to me.

Then I wondered ‘What is the value to me of conforming in this situation?’ having assessed this as low, my thought processes moved on to ask ‘What is the cost of non-compliance?’ The answer to this was slightly trickier to gauge. My non-compliance would be observed by some of my bosses, and some of my colleagues might be a bit irked. However, I didn’t think that I was behaving badly or affecting anyone else’s enjoyment/participation. So I concluded that the cost was marginal.

But ‘What would I gain from non-compliance?’ Well, one tangible benefit was this blog entry. By doodling my thought process, I was able to capture the moment. Another gain was that I reinforced my natural tendency to ask questions and not settle for ‘pat’/ easy answers. The final benefit that I deduced was that I was establishing a position that would help me to resist compliance in more important and difficult situations. I won’t default to non-compliance in every situation; nor will I simply conform. I’ll judge each situation on its merits by taking Simon Sinek’s advice to ‘start with why’.


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