You cannot be a pretender
Can one dare to be different just because you find the expression dramatic and awe-inspiring? You can play-act. It will not last long. At an individual and a corporate level it is a philosophy of choice; daring to be different and then nurturing it within the organisation.
How do you dare to be different?
Invest in knowledge
The courage to be different comes from being assured of knowing your craft well. Invest in training and building the knowledge of your staff. Ensure that everybody at every level always finds time to build knowledge. It pays well too. Probably the most-used Benjamin Franklin quote: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”, sums up the benefits of investing in knowledge.
And Steve Jobs embodied the principle more than any living human being in the recent history.
He was daring. His adopted parents could barely afford the expensive college education Jobs insisted on getting. And then he dropped out, just six months in, to pursue multitudes of creative courses and networking with a whole host of other geniuses he coincidentally found around him.
Identify and nurture
Daring to be different as a trait needs to be nurtured. Leadership teams need to strike encouraging notes and recognise when they see people who dare to be different. Accept it and harness it. There are never armies of people who are comfortable at being different and standing out from the crowd.
Courage to back your conviction through actions
You need to have the courage to hold on to what you believe in. Organisations or people who dare to be different are always alone. They always get challenged but have great conviction to back their ‘different’ beliefs.
There isn’t a greater example than that of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew who made a small nation of a few hundred square kilometers into an economic powerhouse.
It is impossible to imagine his conviction when the country got independence in 1965, that Singapore could become first-world sooner than India, China and all other surrounding nations.
Not easy to handle
Arguably the most successful cricket captain India has ever had was Sourav Ganguly. The man who came close to never getting a chance to play international cricket, was labelled “arrogant”. Once, allegedly, refusing to carry drinks for his mates in the field.
Sourav was different and stayed true to his nature throughout his playing career. He had the lofty ambition of making his debut at Lord’s and also making a century. He did. Becoming only the third person to do so. Leaders need to recognise non-conforming traits and not stifle their growth.
Needed much more today than ever
As mankind, in my opinion, works doubly hard, thanks to social media and super-connected world, at losing its uniqueness, there is a great need for heroes in every walk of life who dare to be different.