Accidental Exceptionalism

It is a basic human need to fit in.  People are social animals, and no one enjoys being excluded from the pack.

Yet, simultaneously, we all secretly like to think that we are special, that something about us is unique – and uniquely valuable.

How people balance these primal needs defines who they are.

And it defines how they approach business and marketing.

How often have you heard someone ask, “What are other companies doing?” or “Is anyone else doing things this way?”

This is the reason for the group think that defines so much of business and marketing today.  The “courageous” want to be leading edge – not bleeding edge.  So we carefully watch what others are doing…and then try to stand out by doing the same thing, only better.  That is the reason for business fads…and why suddenly “everyone” knows we should be doing something.

The need to fit in, the imperative to be part of the pack, has been embedded in our DNA as a safety mechanism.  Predators will have more difficulty targeting you if you are in the middle of a crowd.

But it is not good business to approach your customers and prospects as if they were predators.

We want – we need – them to see us.

What differentiates the successful businessperson, the entrepreneur, and the most effective marketer from the crowd is an innate, unshakable, belief that what they offer is unique, valuable, and worthy of attention.  And they are willing to endure the inevitable adversity that comes with sticking their heads above the crowd.  They are willing to try, and to offer, new and different ways of doing things.

And when they are successful, theirs becomes the new model and paradigm that the rest of the marketplace follows.

For all the talk about fostering innovation and encouraging creativity, for all the seminars, courses, and tomes on how to “think outside the box,” for all the blather about “leadership,” the essentials are not complicated:

♦        Which is more important to you:  Fitting in?  Or a core belief in yourself and your ideas?

♦        As a manager, as a “leader,” which do you prefer:  Followers?  Or those who will challenge your assumptions and push you to your intellectual limit?

How you answer these questions will, quite simply, determine whether you seek excellence or whether you have business and marketing campaigns that are, at best, accidentally exceptional.



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