by Dr Boyce Watkins
Not long ago, someone asked me what I considered to be one of the keys to success. I don’t really think of myself as a successful person, mainly because there is so much work left to do. But at the same time, I’m a 45-year old professor who’s created some successful businesses without asking for help from corporate America, academia, the government or anybody else. I’ve spoken to millions of people and appeared on national TV thousands of times, so I guess that would make me appear to be successful in the eyes of some.
But here’s the thing: None of this happened because I was trying to fit in. Most of my life, I haven’t fit in all that well with white people because I am an outspoken black man. I didn’t quite fit in with black people either because I grew up in a white neighborhood. This led me down a rabbit hole of introspection that worked quite well in helping me to shape my view of the world without being constrained by the pre-conceived notions of other people.
There are many people I work with who think I’m very strange, way too deep, incredibly intense and just downright odd, especially when it comes to something that matters to me. I don’t march on the beaten path, I don’t care much about what other people are doing, and I have no fear whatsoever of saying, “That doesn’t make any sense. I’m going to do it that way instead.”
What I realized is that much of my sometimes odd behavior comes from the fact that I learned a long time ago that people who achieve extraordinary things are usually not normal people: They work much harder than everyone else, they worry when others don’t, but they also let things slide off their backs that drive others into a panicked frenzy. In other words, successful people see the world differently, and that’s what makes them stand out.
So, my advice to this person was this: Embrace your weirdness. Wear it like a badge of honor, for this is the only part of you that no one else owns. They can imitate you, but you’re not imitating them. This is what makes you special.
I am also here to encourage you, from the bottom of my heart, to embrace all that makes you odd, unique and everything else. Follow your instincts. Go with your unique thoughts, habits and protocols. Never be afraid of being you, because that’s typically the best chance you’ve got at standing away from the crowd.
The truth is that, in this world, if you do everything that everyone else is doing, you’re going to get what everyone else is getting. Those who get more are typically the ones who do more. Those who receive something unique have usually engaged in unique behavior in order to get there. There are few things that are ordinary when it comes to achieving extraordinary outcomes. Never allow yourself to be a drone.
Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance PhD and the founder of The Black Stock Market Program, where he teaches millions of people how to invest in the stock market. He is also the director of The Dr Boyce Watkins Economic Empowerment Institute at Simmons College, an HBCU in Louisville, KY.