Whenever you do something out of the ordinary, it feels weird. There are moments of self-doubt and times when you ask yourself, “Should I be doing this?”
In these times, it’s tempting to drop everything and fit in with the norm. To stop sticking out like a sore thumb and get back in line with everybody else who’s following the rules.
Well, before you do that, let me tell you a little history about the computer you’re using right now…
Steve Wozniak’s Homemade Computer
It was the spring of 1975 when Steve Wozniak first attended the Homebrew Computer Club, an early hobbyist group that focused on computing devices. Inspired by the exchange of ideas, Wozniak recounted in his book iWoz how he immediately went home to work on what would become the Apple I computer.
Using two separate concepts available at the time — symbol-input machines such as typewriters and calculators, along with a television screen that acted as the display-output machine — Wozniak created an early prototype of a personal computer.
At the time, Wozniak was an employee at Hewlett Packard, where he designed their popular scientific calculators. Because of his dedication to HP, he felt it important to share his prototype with the company. Unfortunately, they didn’t take it too well.
The company didn’t see why an ordinary person would need to use a computer. What Wozniak presented to them seemed like a dinky little project that a computer enthusiast tinkered with in his spare time (which it was). Still, he persisted and “begged”, in his own words, for them to make the Apple I. They turned him down five times.
But Steve Jobs saw the potential. He convinced Wozniak to quit and start a company that would sell printed circuit boards, so people could assemble a computer. It was the first of a series of steps that would change technology in the decades to come.
When You Push Boundaries, Expect Resistance
Steve Wozniak’s concept of a computer for the everyday person was a strange concept back then. What on earth would they be useful for? Of course, we see things differently today and accept computers as a regular part of our lives.
The same concept applies whenever you do something out of the ordinary. Pushing boundaries and attempting change causes discomfort amongst people. Discomfort leads to resistance.
This resistance applies to many aspects of life.
- Reading books about psychology elicits raised eyebrows and comments such as, “What are you reading that for?”
- Pursuing a different career path from others leads them to question your decision and wonder whether you regret your choice.
- Changing to a healthier diet means friends will insist you look fine the way you are.
I have seen or experienced all of these reactions from trying something unusual. Whenever you pursue a new idea, expect resistance.
It’s not that people don’t want you to become better or learn a skill. It’s simply that we tend to have preconceived notions of how the world should work. When things fits neatly into a box, everything feels safe.
But step outside that box, and you’ll find yourself being nudged back in.
Feeling Weird is Necessary for Succeeding
Everyone wants to feel success at some point in their lives. The image of streaming confetti, cheering crowds, and large paychecks are the stuff that daydreams are made of. Or, success can simply be about knowing that you did the right thing at the end of the day.
But none of us want to feel weird. No one wants to feel like others are scrutinizing their efforts, or have those moments of creeping self-doubt.
I remember when I first started sharing my writing publicly. I worried about whether my words were coming out right. Would people think what I said was weird?
But now, I have a different take on the concept of weirdness. Weirdness can be a good thing. Ideas and gadgets we take for granted today were once weird (if you think about it, the computer is a very weird thing).
If you don’t feel weird every so often, you’re not pushing the boundaries enough.
How to Thrive In an Ordinary World
Steve Wozniak probably felt unsure after the five rejections he received. But before that happened, he was inspired to create after meeting with like-minded people who shared his love of computing.
We too can surround ourselves with people who share the same interests. By discussing ideas and learning from other people who aspire to do similar things, we can embrace the challenges of not being ordinary. The environment you’re in dictates your actions.
Every successful artist, innovator, and entrepreneur did something weird once. You too can find something weird to do.