Be remarkable. Join me in moving to the fringe.
You may not realize it, but for your entire life, you’ve been shoved toward the middle of the pack. Your society, culture, school, church, and family have been on a mission to make you average.
There is, however, a secret society where being average and running with the pack is abhorred. They’ve discovered they can be remarkable by moving to the fringe. I’m breaking into this renegade group of free thinkers. By reading this article you are gaining your own introduction to the society. Consider this to be my personal invitation for you to join.
Think of how true it is that people are pushed toward the middle of the pack, by being taught the greatest good is to fit in.
For me, it began when I tried to color my first picture. Like most kids, I colored outside the lines. You would think this was the biggest sin ever committed in the history of the human race. I was told, “You can’t color outside the lines!” And so began the push toward the middle of the pack.
In grade school, my teacher introduced me to cursive writing. From the moment I picked up my first pencil, I was told I did it wrong. Why? I grasped the pencil with my left hand. My grade school teachers would tell me, “You can’t do it like that.” Why not? If I accomplished the task, what was the problem? From their perspective, the problem was I needed to fit in and do it like everyone else; even though my writing was legible.
The same can be said of most churches. You are taught to be average and live in the middle of the pack. People who ask edgy questions are labeled as dangerous. And if you are preparing for ministry, you are coached to say exactly the right words to the accrediting board, or you will not be allowed into the club. My church taught me that to fit in I had to think like them, look like them, talk like them, and act like them.
Do you remember what it was like to apply for a job? You worried if your resume was formatted correctly; like all the other resumes. As you prepared for the interview, you wondered what other candidates were wearing, so you too could be dressed appropriately. We’ve been taught the job goes to those who have learned to fit in the best.
For your entire life you have been shoved to the middle of the pack; groomed to fit in. You are just another cookie stamped out by a cookie-cutter culture.
What’s wrong with living in the middle of the pack? Is it wrong to fit in with everyone else? It depends on whether or not you want an average life or an extraordinary one. Being in the middle of the pack is safe, but boring. Living in the middle of the curve is to settle for being average, even if greatness beckons.
Check out this bell curve:
The big hump in the center is into where you’ve been pushed. According to our society, it is where you belong. It’s the safe place. It’s the place where you fit in. It’s the place where you do not ask the hard questions or rock the boat. It’s the place where being okay is twisted into being the best we can expect. It’s the place where Average is King and Mediocrity is Queen.
Maybe you want to live that place, but I don’t. Be remarkable. Join me in moving to the fringe.
What would happen, if you and I decided to break free from the middle and moved to the edge? What if we decided it didn’t matter if we fit in, but what mattered was that we became extraordinary? What if making a difference in our world, became more important than marching in lock-step with the masses in the middle?
There are many ways to apply this kind of thinking. But my mind is focused on those who will soon retire. You are trying to figure out what to do. Or maybe you’ve already exited your career and are trying to figure out what’s next. Relax. Society has it figured out for you and is pushing you to the middle once again.
Living in the middle, during this phase of life, is to accept the common view of retirement. Sit back and focus on yourself. Watch TV. Lounge around and watch the world go to hell. It’s time for you to fade away into the background. Keep your mouth shut. You’ve had your chance. It’s time for the next generation to have a try at making the world a better place. Your day is done.
Do you see? Even in what ought to be the most productive chapter of your life, you are being shoved into the middle. You are expected to be average. And many of you, most of you, will drift to the middle without a whimper. Like a herd of aging horses, you will gravitate toward the back 40 to live out the rest of your days.
But there are a few of us moving out toward the fringes. We are tired of being average. We are tired of being pushed around. We are tired of not making a difference in our world. We are a secret society of people, on our way to the fringe in an effort to become remarkable.
This is why I am so fired up about the ReFIRE process. It is a way to take your life and make it the best and most productive years of your life.
I LOVE your writing Randy. It gets me FIRED UP! We’re a peculiar people for sure. We don’t want to sit on the sidelines any more, or stay in the middle. Its time to make a difference any way we can and I, for one, am about to find out what it looks like to live ‘fringe bound’. :-) Great post!
Thanks Kellie. You have the gift of encouragement!
Great article! Really inspiring!
Great article, Randy. I think I started out that way-I was going to be so different, and change the world! After a while-bills, kids, church commitments, seemed to change my thinking. Life became hard- working at a difficult, physical job for 25 years, supporting a wife and 3 kids, it seemed like I was just keeping my head above water. At what point did I settle for being average? Thanks for the reminder that I can once again “rise above the level of mediocrity! ” I think I got this from Chuck Swindoll. I ain’t dead yet!
I’m a great fan of being weird, by which I mean just be yourself; everyone’s weird. Or as Oscar Wilde put it, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”