Oh my goodness what to do? In life we have two options to stand out or to blend in. There are times like, for example when I go through customs, that even though I never do anything illegal, I somehow feel guilty so I do everything to ‘blend in’. I try to walk normally, to smile normally to behave normally – just like the next traveler. But when I am on a change assignment, I want to blend in enough to make people feel comfortable around me but there comes a point when blending no longer works…
There are consultants that try to prolong their assignments by blending in, staying ‘under the radar’ in the hope that somehow they will go unnoticed and their contracts will be renewed. But this is not me. I have been thinking back to my childhood, my first day in a new class at the age of six and once with a new group of children at summer camp. Some of them did crazy things to stand out and to draw attention to themselves, while others tried to blend in like me. (I like to think that I blended in but in reality I must have stood out, at least a bit). I am sure the psychologists have much to say on this topic, the geneticists too because there must be a survival advantage to know just when to blend in or to stand out. All I know is that as I get older, I find blending in more and more difficult.
I believe that you cannot bring about change by standing on the sidelines. And because people dislike change, especially when it is inflicted on them, to get them to desire it takes immense effort and energy, and to execute that one tends to stand out. I do, however, try everything in my power to avoid taking center stage and to encourage those around me to step up and take the lead. But recently I have found myself in a situation where blending in seems to be the best tactic to gain additional trust, but it leaves me seriously considering whether it is better to bite my tongue and remain in the shadow of others or to simply open up and say what was on my mind, at some point something is going to give!
Many elderly people (read those well into their retirement) don’t seem to care about blending in; they behave how they like, they say what they like to whom they like, when they like and somehow being ‘old’ gives them a free pass to get away with it, rather like an obstreperous two year old!
Strange how we tend to end up where we started?
Have a good week,