Entrepreneurs are known to be a pretty contrarian bunch. To build anything from scratch, you have to dream beyond the status quo, ignore the naysayers, and bully your way through obstacles. With all due respect, that probably means a lot of you reading this are certifiable weirdos.
Perhaps you've long ago accepted that. Perhaps you even suspect that not being like everyone else, despite the challenges and high school struggles, has given you a leg up in life. Olga Khazan is here to tell you you're right.
Oddballs really are more creative
As Khazan explains in a recent Atlantic article, having grown up the daughter of Russian immigrants in west Texas, she definitely understands what it means to feel like an outsider. But, she writes, "I've come to realize that there's an upside to being different from everyone around you." In the article, she lays out the science that supports her in this belief.
The whole piece is worth a read, but one study will be of particular interest to oddball entrepreneurs. Researchers out of Johns Hopkins recruited volunteers and then told some of them they weren't chosen for the group that would participate in the study. This was a lie -- there was no selected group. The researchers just wanted to make some volunteers feel rejected. They then used a pair of standard tests to assess participants' creativity.
"The rejects, it turned out, were better at both exercises," Khazan reports. This was true particularly if they already felt like confirmed weirdos before the study.
This result wasn't a fluke. It's not just some unexamined stereotype. Multiple studies confirm weirdos of all stripes, from expats to army brats to born eccentrics, really are more creative. They ignore convention, dare to challenge the status quo, and put together ideas in fresh, unexpected ways.
So, next time chasing your dream makes you feel like a reject or misfit, take a minute to remember this science and celebrate your eccentricities. Being weird has major upsides.
There is no such thing as normal
How about if you don't feel like a weirdo? What if, in the dark hours of the night, you secretly worry you're as remarkable as white bread? Well, then, I have good news from science for you, too. Chances are excellent you're wrong. Research out of Yale shows we all vary from one another in complicated ways that lead to unique combinations of advantages and drawbacks. We may try to hide it, but really we are all weirdos.
Embracing this truth and learning to love your inner oddball probably won't just give you greater peace of mind. It might also unlock more of your hidden creativity, too.