I encounter people regularly who don't things that are a little different because they are concerned what other people will think. They may be worried about what mother, father or spouse will think, and that is certainly understandable. The approval of the people closest to us is an important thing. Often, however, it isn't even those closest to us who cause us not to step out and try something out of character, risky or seemingly foolish.
I have had a startling revelation in my own life the last few years. I came to realize how often I hadn't done something because I was concerned with how I would be perceived by others. And those others were people who didn't matter, sometimes even those I didn't know. For example, I wouldn't make certain requests in a restaurant because I didn't want to look foolish. I wouldn't ask for directions because I didn't want the people in the service station to think I was stupid. I wouldn't wear anything orange, my favorite color, because I was afraid that others would think that a strange color for a grown man to wear. I hope you get the picture.
Almost all people pursue behavior they and others consider "normal." Some people would call it being balanced. Yet normal or balanced people, and people pursuing this normalcy, seldom achieve greatness or even purposeful living. They do all that others expect of them, all that society expects even, but they stop short of doing what is in their heart - sometimes for fear of what others will think.
This pursuit of normalcy often leads to mediocrity and irrelevance where purpose is concerned. Purpose always takes you to the edge of normal in your area of purpose expression or concern. Jesus, for example, was not normal. Zeal for His Father's house consumed Him and led Him to do some unusual things in the eyes of those who were pursuing a 'normal' Jewish walk with God.
While many people pursue normalcy, no one can describe what this normalcy is when asked. What's more, none of the people I ask about normalcy are normal, including you. If we are going to be people of purpose, we must accept the fact that you and I aren't normal.
Before you run off and say that I called you "weird," let me explain. We all have things we love that others would never understand and would perhaps even consider a bit "quirky" (which is defined as a peculiar trait). So what? To be true to ourselves, you must pursue those quirks because often those quirks will lead you to your passion, and your passion is where your purpose lives.
If you could play the piano all day, then play as often as possible. If you love to hike in the woods, hike. If you like the color purple, then purple your whole world. Who cares? If someone does care, it's really none of their business. I have written 630 Monday Memos and given them away free of charge (that adds up to millions of distrubuted copies). Some people would say that's not smart; others have told me it's not normal, that I'm just playing around. I have personally entered 22,000 email addresses in my system to build my mailing list. I think that qualifies as quirky.
Why am I giving this advice? Why do I think this is important? Because you are a one-of-a-kind creation. You need to stop trying to imitate what others do and be your original self. Samuel Johnson once wrote, "No man ever yet became great by imitation." I agree. If you love chemistry, then be a chemist. If you enjoy reading, then read, read, read. And if you have children and they love something, let them do it as much as possible, as long as its not harmful to their health.
Perhaps this week you need to stop having normalcy as a goal and replace it with being quirky. As you do, you'll be happier and you'll have a better chance of being purposeful. But if you continue to pursue normalcy, you will be after something that can never be achieved in your lifetime. Have a great, quirky week!
ALASKA 2014: A few years ago, I did a purpose cruise to Alaska with about 25 people and we had a great time, seeing the sites and then meeting around purpose. I am hosting another cruise next August 9-16 and would like to invite you to come along! I am attaching the flier below, or check it out online. Read it over and then act today to book your space. What a great Christmas present that would make for yourself or your family.
KENYA: We are preparing our Kenya supplies for shipment and of course that means it will cost some money! I ask that you consider giving a Thanksgiving and Christmas gift to the orphans and widows there. You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.
CLASSES IN JANUARY: In January, I will be offering courses that lead to an associate degree in leadership here in Pittsburgh. If you have been looking for a reason or chance to go back to school, this is it! Please write and let me know, or check out our site to get the appropriate information.
RADIO: I have many radio shows archived through my church network and through Geneva's Colleges leadership site. You can access them at any time, listen on your computer or download them to listen on your mobile device.
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING: My book Daily Dose of Proverbs makes a perfect Christmas gift, as does any of my devotionals: Faith Files or The Revelation Project. Seven of my books are now available in Kindle format and two more are on the way. You can check out all my books online here and then give the gift of reading this Christmas to your family, staff or friends.
FACEBOOK: Please become a fan and 'like' my PurposeQuest International Facebook page when you have a chance. Thanks!