Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. – Apple, “Think Different” campaign
Nonconformists have been instrumental in the betterment and advancement of human society; the world, as we know it, would have never been possible without some brave and courageous individuals, who were determined to push the human race forward.
Free of speech, free of thought, democracy, equality, great inventions and technology advancements, and, in general, all progress and prosperity achieved by human societies, were accomplished thanks to some courageous nonconformists, who decided to go against the flow.
Nonconformity is not a virtue. Nonconformity is a deliberate decision any individual can make although it takes a lot of courage and determination to become a true nonconformist.
True nonconformists are not afraid of saying things that most people would not have the courage to say, do not feel intimidated by authority or titles, rather take a risk than live a miserable life, and have a strong sense of wrong and right.
Since the ancient times, political and religious leaders have castigated those who publicly express their non-conformity with existing governing norms, no matter how injudicious, unfair or stupid those rules are.
In the corporate world, non-conformists are, generally speaking, thought to be toxic, and most of the times those who do not play the “office politics” game, end up being terminated, sooner rather than later.
We all know that behavioral and thought control has always been one of the preferred, and most effective, ways to govern the masses.
As a result, most people see nonconformists as troublemakers; the nonconformist freedom to think and say whatever they want, challenging generally accepted patterns and popular beliefs, far from being appreciated, is most often perceived as a threat to the millions of obedient soldiers out there.
As Colin Wilson said:
The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain.
The list below is a little tribute to some of the bravest and most inspiring nonconformist, men and women, in our recent history.
# 1 Abraham Lincoln
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.
# 2 Benazir Bhutto
I fully understand the men behind Al Qaeda. They have tried to assassinate me twice before. The Pakistan Peoples Party and I represent everything they fear the most — moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology.
# 3 Martin Luther King
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
# 4 Mahatma Gandhi
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
# 5 Aung Sang Suu Kyi
If you want to bring an end to long-standing conflict, you have to be prepared to compromise.
# 6 John F. Kennedy
Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
# 7 Steve Jobs
I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.
# 8 Rosa Parks
I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
# 9 Noam Chomsky
All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
# 10 Winston Churchill
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened.
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Jordi Alemany is an energetic executive coach, management consultant, and bi-lingual (English-Spanish) author and speaker, with a contagious passion for Humanistic Leadership. He devotes a great portion of his life to helping others reach their next level and exploit their full potential.