Outliers create worthy art and commerce out of nothing, from stardust. They create words that provoke us to think deeper, music that demands we listen over and over, visuals that we simply must share with others, and stellar performances that are worthy of multiple accolades. They also create products and services that fly way above the same o’l same o’l.
Here’s how to begin such a quest:
1. Create a clear vision of where you’re headed. However, take down the goal posts and keep the final destination open to unknown, unlimited possibilities. Back that up with a bulldog determination, and allow yourself to follow the steady tug toward curiosity. Like that time Steve Jobs said, “If you are working on something really exciting, something worthy that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed…the vision will pull you.”
2. Be crazy committed. Ruthless. No plan B. More like a knowing than a wishing. So committed that it’s effortless. Absence of doubt, with a cocky attitude. Like that time Freddie Mercury said, “I won’t be a rockstar, I will be a legend.”
3. Focus on craft. Master that one special talent or quality you have that no one else has. That raw essence of who you are and what you do. Aim for being the best in the world at that! Like that time Snoop Dogg said, “If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do you have to master your craft.”
4. The best hedge against the distraction of competition (inner and outer), is to wear permanent blinders. That’s why they put blinders on racehorses. If they get distracted by who’s on the left or right they lose a step. That’s why Secretariat (the worlds greatest racehorse), never ran a race without them. That’s why Emily Dickinson seldom read other poets, except for Emerson and Whitman, saying that she simply needed to write without the distractions from other people.
5. Embrace your naiveté. Like procrastination is not even on your radar because you’re too busy progressing. Like tossing in the towel is a concept you just can’t grasp. Like that time Idowu Koyenikan said, “At the end, someone or something always gives up. It is either you give up, or the obstacle or failure gives up and makes way for your success to come through.”
6. Create work that you don’t think will make a difference, you know it will. Create work that surprises the heck out of you, and makes your insides smile. Create work that you can’t take credit for because you know it came through you, not from you.
Important because the most important part of being an outlier is an absence of formula. No rules, predicts, guardrails or manuals. Not even a net. Outliers hold on to the trapeze for dear life with their fingertips. Like that time Alex Honnold climbed Half Dome in Yosemite with just his fingers and toes; no ropes, leads or sherpas. Why would you settle for anything less? Don’t you know there is an outlier already embedded in your bones?