Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about misfits. I define misfits as people who do things their own way. People who stand out from the crowd. People who tread their own path through life.
It started with some research I was doing. I was looking at common factors behind the people who achieve great success in their chosen field.
And in 100% of the cases I studied, they were misfits. From Shakespeare, Dieter Rams and Steve Jobs, to Grandmaster Flash, Richard Feynman, Picasso and Robin Williams.
This also seems to hold true, whether the person is a musician, politician, activist, industrialist, designer, writer, actor… whatever. The only exception I could find were sports stars, where genetics played a huge part. But even then, the very top achievers in sport are often misfits; people who demonstrated a rare level of commitment, focus, grit and determination.
The creative adult
There’s a wonderful old saying that goes like this:
The creative adult, is the child who survived.
I love the idea of the child who survived: the kid who grew-up, whilst still hanging onto their child-like imagination and curiosity. Schools tend to try and make kids conform to a measurable norm. Teachers and fellow students make life tough for kids who are different. So, kids slowly learn to fit in. This robs children of their chance to be their unique-self. The misfit they were born to be.
Just as the creative adult, is the child who survived, I think the same is true of misfit adults.
Embrace your inner misfit
You were born unique. That uniqueness is still within you. Yes, it may take time, but you can reconnect with it. A great place to start is to observe the freedom with which your kids, siblings or grand-kids behave. Look at how they create, how curious they are and how much fun they have. Learn from them.
There are very few adults who retain or recapture their ability to think with the freedom of a child. But those who do are the misfits. The people who make a difference.