Dictionary.com defines the word "normal" as "conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected."
I recently wrote a young adult / middle grades novel called Normal, so I've been thinking about the word quite a bit lately. It's a word we use a lot, especially as kids, but what does the word "normal" really mean? And how many entrepreneurs are there out there who would define themselves as normal?
To answer these questions, I went to the source: First, I asked my social network: "What does the word "Normal" mean to you?" Then, I asked CEO's from the New York chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization: "Would you define yourself as "normal? Why or why not?" Here are some of my favorite responses:
What does "Normal" mean to you?
"It's normal to be weird." -AJ Jacobs, NY Times Best selling author
"Usual, common, average, natural. What I assume everyone else to be." -George Stamatis
"Being your true self, whatever that is." -Jasmine C. Trillos-Decarie
"A social construct. I believe in unicorns; I don't believe in normal." -Susan Catterall
"Don't try to be normal. Try to be yourself." -Oleg Vishnepolsky
As kids, it seems, we all tried to be "normal." Many of us felt like our families weren't "normal" but we tried to fit in nonetheless. Yet it was clear from my social media survey that many adults recognize that being "normal" isn't as great as we might have thought it would be as children.
So, are entrepreneurs "normal"? Here's what I heard from leading New York based founder-CEO's of multimillion dollar companies:
"I am not normal by any means!" -Josh York, Founder & CEO, GYMGUYZ
"I'm the opposite of normal." -Andrew Keene, CEO & Founder, AlphaShark Trading
"I'm not normal. I've decided that starting a business is a safer bet than getting a regular day job." -Bryan Luoma, CEO, CADSOURCING
"How I go about most of the "ordinary" thinga is different than the large majority of people. Therefore, I would consider myself not normal." -Arthurt Meyerovich, CEO, Forward Health
"Without knowing exactly what defines 'normal', I can pretty confidently say that I'm not normal." -Morris Tabush, CEO, Tabush Group
"Heavens no! While I probably don't fit into the 'normal' category of any conceivable spectrum one might measure, I am convinced that much of my abnormality stems from the fact that I'm an entrepreneur...a group of completely abnormal people that makes up about 1% of the population." -David S. Rose, CEO of Gust, Founder of New York Angels
So, there you have it. Entrepreneurs are clearly "not normal." We may not all agree on exactly what "normal" means, but it is clear that if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, then you'll have to embrace the weird, the different, the unique, and even the abnormal inside of you.
Perhaps, then, we should help our children realize that it's better to strive for "different" than for "normal"? Perhaps the path to success is less about becoming normal and more about becoming unique?
I'll close with one more quote, for you to consider, whether you are an entrepreneur today, or have visions of one day becoming one:
"If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be."