Call it crazy or creative – being different can provide insights others notice

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”                                                                           Albert Einstein

I’ve often pondered the fine line between genius and insanity. I think anyone who perceives the world in unusual ways questions who’s crazy. Does it mean you’re wrong-minded if you’re not majority like-minded?

With marketing, invention or creation, though, it’s important to be able to understand a bit about why others think the way they do. That doesn’t mean you need to respond to meet their expectations. In fact, often it’s better if you can get really creative and provide something few expect. But, you need to do it in a way that’s relatable. Crazy creative doesn’t work if no one understands what you’re trying to tell them.

Pioneers are generally heralded posthumously more so than during their lifetimes. Just consider the number of people who died penniless and ostracized who are now recorded in the annals of history as brilliant. Still, there’s something to be said for those who have the courage to do it anyway. It takes tremendous passion, focus and drive to be able to persist against normal thinking and the associated ridicule that comes with putting your ideas out there. Entrepreneurs who succeed have at least a touch of this spirit in them.

Here’s a great, brief (just over a minute) video spotlighting some of the crazy geniuses mostly from days gone by:

I was proud to recognize all but a few –even though most were before my time.

This comes from Business Thrival. I subscribe to their free newsletter and would recommend it to anyone serious about continuous learning or is even looking for a pick-me-up twice a week. These two gals are former corporate attorneys who decided in 2007 they had enough of the big business culture and created a resource to help small businesses prosper. The videos they produce (a link to one is featured in each of their newsletters) are masterfully done. Every issue also features quick tips on body, mind and spirit. The general newsletter content is long, but designed to help rather than being a pitch fest. They do incorporate an affiliate product in each but it’s not obnoxious.

One of the most incredible ah-ha moments I had as it relates to understanding other people came from studying the Enneagram. Sadly, most of the books published on this topic focus on the negative that occurs with an overload of neurotic type traits, but it’s a fascinating look at human characteristics that’s been around for a long time. Digging into this idea caused me to realize different people process information with a built-in bias (duh, I know, but I had never considered the why in such a fashion).

Even though what I learned from looking into the Enneagram was an incredibly valuable learning experience (it’s changed the way I respond and react to people – not to mention enhanced my marketing communications skills), I never did figure out my ‘number.’ No surprise. One of the most telling descriptions I’ve ever heard (from a friend describing me to others) is ‘Nanette’s the only person I’ve ever met who’s equally right and left brained.’ Standardized personality and occupation tests don’t know what to do with me either. Those high analytic and chart topping creative scores don’t work very well with their quadrants. When I took – I think it was the Briggs – during or shortly after college, my top recommended occupational choice was an Army Sergeant. Right, I’d be perfect for that structured environment. I laughed and realized after that there was no making me normal. And for those familiar with the Enneagram, no, I doubt very much I’m a ‘nine.’

So, if you see the world a bit differently from the norm, don’t despair. The key is in figuring out how you can present what you see in a way that others can relate to. What’s really funny is one of the areas where I’ve become most sought-after is ghost writing (speeches, others’ by-line media articles, book content, letters, etc.). Seems I can usually capture and mimic another’s voice during the course of a twenty-minute interview.  Go figure.

Now, let your creative side surface and go find your passion. If you love what you do it shows and attracts referrals and clients. Don’t worry if you’re different. Just figure out a way to express yourself so others can understand. You might be shocked at who comes with ready money to enjoy experiencing what you can do for them.

Nanette Levin

Writer, author, marketer, public speaker and small business advocate with more than 25 years of experience. Check out some of our affordable introductory deals designed to make it fun and easy for new clients to test results with small projects.

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14 Responses to Call it crazy or creative – being different can provide insights others notice
  1. Minette
    July 7, 2012 | 1:22 pm

    Fabulous post, Nanette. I appreciated your insights into what it takes to allow your genius and creativity ro shine, no matter how far outside of normal it may seem to others. Van Gogh always comes to mind as does Salvador Dali – two different versions of genius and insanity. Loved your perspective on the fact that we all process information differently according to our personal style. When we understand that, we learn to be more accepting of those who are different from us.

    • Nanette Levin
      July 7, 2012 | 10:35 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment Minette. Funny Poe usually comes to mind for me. Wonder what that says about where my mind’s at.

  2. Robert Chazz Chute
    July 7, 2012 | 5:31 pm

    I personally struggle with the different versus weird thing. Nice post.

  3. Jessica Crooks
    July 8, 2012 | 1:56 am

    Thanks for sharing this and your thoughts. It is difficult sometimes to differentiate between crazy and different. I however believe that the truly brilliant is a little insane.

    • Nanette Levin
      July 8, 2012 | 3:25 am

      Me too, Jessica. Or perhaps normal is a bit below inspired?

    • Nanette Levin
      July 8, 2012 | 3:31 am

      By the way, Jessica, tried to comment on your blog (Blogger doesn’t seem to want to recognize any of my IDs) and share your post, but couldn’t find any share icons or bars. Not sure how to do this with Blogger, but you might want to consider adding at least FB and Twitter share buttons.

  4. Keith Addison
    July 8, 2012 | 3:39 am

    I think I generally go between crazy and different all the time. I have so many crazy ideas that I would love to run with but I always seem to reign myself in and the ‘common sense’ side of me kicks in to say “That is a stupid idea”. Maybe once in a blue moon I should just go with the crazy ideas!
    Keith Addison recently posted..My top 5 tips for losing weightMy Profile

    • Nanette Levin
      July 8, 2012 | 11:42 am

      Why not, Keith? Personally, I think sane is a bit overrated :-).

  5. Jo
    July 8, 2012 | 7:44 am

    I have gone through life feeling distinctly out of step with those I find around me. I thought it was my peripatetic upbringing as an air force child from a tiny country on the underside of the world. Perhaps I am just a little odd after all! I enjoyed your post,thanks.

    • Nanette Levin
      July 8, 2012 | 11:45 am

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jo. I find a little odd a good thing. Being able to channel that in ways that others can handle is the challenge, isn’t it?

  6. Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count
    July 8, 2012 | 9:08 am

    Very interesting post. Thank you for posting the video as well, I think I recognized all of them. Thanks!
    Fran@ Broken Cookies Don’t Count recently posted..Saturday ReprieveMy Profile

    • Nanette Levin
      July 8, 2012 | 11:46 am

      I appreciate your stopping by, Fran. OK – who was the dancing woman?

  7. Amy Putkonen
    July 8, 2012 | 11:28 pm

    I’ve always loved the crazies. Most of my dearest people are some sort of crazy, which I both admire and respect! I think that challenging the status quo is part of our makeup. It’s how we evolve. As I always tell my daughter, you can grow without learning from your mistakes! Great post again, Nanette! I am really enjoying your blog.
    Amy Putkonen recently posted..43 – The Powerful Act of Not DoingMy Profile

    • Nanette Levin
      July 9, 2012 | 12:43 am

      Funny, Amy – I was just over visiting your blog when this comment came through. Would live to sign up for e-mail alerts on blog posts. If you ever set this up, please let me know. I’ve always been fascinated with Eastern teachings.

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