September 1, 2021
Consider the Outliers to Increase Team Effectiveness
As humans, we tend to gravitate toward those who are most like us, to those who are “in the know” or part of the “in crowd.” As educators or bosses, our favorites tend to be those who don’t give us trouble, who fit within our program without accommodation, who go along with the group.
But today I ask you to consider the outliers, the misfits, the ones who annoy you.
In The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative, I wrote about outliers in the context of one of my favorite subjects — the prairie:
“If you ever look out on a prairie and see a tree, chances are you’re looking at the prairie’s edge.”
On the edges, predictability ends. The conditions are no longer monolithic with grasses and shrubs. Surprising species mingle. Interesting adaptations form.”
Many prairie experts find the edge of the prairie to be the richest part of the landscape.
Similarly, decades of work with outlier thinkers has shown me that it is often those who don’t quite fit in with the norm who can help us get to the most valuable innovation, who can truly “see” with a fresh perspective, and who can teach us the most about breaking through the Inertia of No.
You see, the Inertia of No is that universal resistance to change that we all face when trying to get out of ruts or even just trying pull ourselves away from mindless internet browsing or social media scrolling. Underlying this resistance is the fear of not getting it right, the inertia of group think, and especially the inertia of surface-level thinking.
There is one group of people who seem NOT to have this intractable resistance to deep thinking. They are they type of outlier thinkers who I call deep souls.
When they are operating in ideal conditions, they don’t resist creativity, problem-solving, and deep work. I believe this is because they are the rebels, daydreamers, and class clowns who resisted the dulling of their thinking that is required to excel obediently in our structures of schooling. (Note: Many deep souls excelled in school, but did it their way.)
Unlike the rest of us, they have kept their deep-thinking muscles toned and active by going against the grain, whether thinking up jokes on the side, questioning the status quo, ignoring others while they delve into their own imaginations, or by simply being part of a group not in the mainstream.
Thus, the start-up time to jumping into a problem or project can be much smaller for deep souls than for those of us who are used to thinking on the surface, or who derive great joy from checking quick tasks off of our list. We are not hopeless, mind you, it’s just that it takes more warm-up and re-training to get us there.
Back to my original ask: Please take the time to notice the outliers around you. You will likely discover a person with a highly valuable ability to think differently. To help you find them, I share with you this link to our 7 Ways to Spot a Deep Soul at Work free resource.
If most of us weren’t taught to question, who will do it when the team, the company, or the world is heading down a dangerous or self-destructive path? If most of us are resistant to new ideas, who will be open to them when they are needed?
As I’ve written before, we need the outlier thinkers. You can find them by searching for deep souls. Today, please notice them around you and consider how you might bring them into the fold to give them opportunities to use their greatest thinking strengths.
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.