You’re a wuss
I’m a wuss and so are you. We hesitate. We do NOT want to stick out. We want to be different but we fail because we use normal things to do it. The closest we get to wanting to be different is having a 2012 model instead of a 2011. That’s not different, that’s newer.
Julien Smith wrote a short book (length doesn ‘t matter by the way, it’s still awesome) about our human reaction to being different. The book is called Flinch and it chronicles our human desire to fit in and our deep rooted hesitation to do anything difficult.
He’s right. This is not an issue that goes away after trying to fit in while you’re surviving the high school social scene. Case in point: There’s a restaurant in downtown Sioux Falls that gets a big business lunch crowd. 95% of the men who walk into Minerva’s are wearing a black trench coat. They’re not navy blue or charcoal, the coats are jet black. Why did they all buy the same coat? The Flinch.
Comparison is a great way to do nothing
You read a blog post a lot more days than you write a blog post. I read blog posts every single day. Do I write a post every day? No. Why don’t I? The Flinch. I am afraid whatever I’m going to say won’t be as good as Mitch Joel or Seth Godin‘s writing. That’s actually true, it won’t be as good as Mitch or Seth’s, but that’s just another excuse to not write. It’s a flinch.
The Flinch in the rest of your life
You flinch when you tell your kid to stop doing something even though it’s not illegal, immoral, annoying, dangerous or harmful to their health. Parents most often say “No” because it’s just easier to say than yes. So your kid wants to drink seven kinds of soda at the same time. Let them (just not that often, it’ll kill them). So your kid wants to break all their crayons in half. Let them. They’ll learn that 1/2 sized crayons are a *%(#* to draw with.
You have an idea on how to improve a process at your job but you don’t say anything. You tell yourself to not say anything because “They probably already thought of it and it didn’t work.” or “It’s not my job to improve this process, that’s my boss’ job.” or “My boss won’t even take my suggestion and do anything with it. It’s a waste of my time.” Those are all 1/2 truths. The reason you won’t say anything is that you’re afraid to stick out. You’re afraid they’ll say no. You’re afraid other employees will think you’re kissing up to the boss. You’re afraid. That’s the Flinch.
You’re well trained like a monkey
The reason the Flinch is so dangerous is that it trains us over time. The Flinch trains us to avoid the flinch. It trains us to avoid the moments where they could, maybe, possibly, perhaps, potentially be a point of friction. It teaches us to sit down and shut up. It teaches us to avoid risk everywhere.
You want more out of your life
What kind of life is characterized by taking as few risks as possible and fitting in as much as possible? Your life.
Until you wake up to the reality of the Flinch you’ll settle for a safe life. You’ll have a safe faith, safe kids and a safe job. If “safe” is your #1 goal in life then have fun with that. Happy flinching. The alternative to a safe life is to identify the Flinch and put yourself in situations where you push through it. The next step is to seek out the Flinch and show it who’s boss. Then life gets fun.
The Flinch is Free