Do you often feel you’re out of step? Do you tap your toe to music others don’t hear? Do you zig when those around you zag? Is your biggest fear being mediocre? You, my friend, march to the beat of a different drum. And that’s a good thing, especially in the workplace. It makes you a winner. It means you’re a creative, visionary thinker. You reject the status quo. You look objectively at both sides of an issue. You don’t conform for the sake of conformity or go along with the crowd just to people-please.


why being different is a good thing

Some of your best qualities are your flexibility and your agile mind. You’re a lifelong learner and respect intellect and knowledge over authority. You’re willing to adopt new ideas once you’ve given them appropriate consideration and as long as they sit well with your integrity and view of the world. Other people afraid to step out of their comfort zone envy you for your ability to live without one. You work hard and contribute meaningfully at the same time as you understand and live the concept of the balanced life.

Entrepreneurs are people who hear their own drum beat and operate according to its rhythm. They succeed because they champion their ‘otherness’. They think differently and are strong visualizers, which gives them a different perspective on problem-solving. They stay true to themselves and their vision regardless of obstacles and challenges. Most importantly, they don’t judge or compare themselves to others. They think outside the box in business and life.

Here are a few tips to maximize the benefits you and your drum corps bring to the workplace.

appreciate your value

Know what you’re good at and be confident in your strengths. Does the idea of the hard sell make you cringe? Instead of thinking you’ll never succeed in sales or promoting a new technology, realize that the value you bring to the transaction is your unique perspective and approach, which draws people to you and makes them want to work with you. Others won’t value your contributions until you value them yourself.  You’re a doer and a hard worker. You have the ability to focus even if you sometimes seem distracted to others.

dare to think differently

We often find things when we stop looking for them. This is true of good ideas. As a different drum marcher, you may already be familiar and comfortable with meditation or the concept of free association. These are tools that allow for the free flow of ideas without mediation or editing. It’s probably something you’re already doing without realizing you’re doing it. It’s just naturally how your mind operates.

A tried and true trick used by professional copy editors is to read a piece backwards (that is from the bottom-up, rather than the usual top-down.) By inverting the way you read, you achieve a fresh way of looking at the text and catch things you wouldn’t otherwise. The same is true in business. You excel at imagining the possibilities because it forms how you approach life unrestricted by conformity. That makes you a great person to have on a team. People look to you for new and innovative ideas.

reject what is ‘true’

Let go of the ‘truths’ others live by and create your own. Retain only those that speak to you. Do you sometimes think you should be joining your peers in pursuing a six-figure income, a home in the suburbs and two cars to find happiness? A true drum-follower knows those goals are unlikely to scratch that itch way down deep in the soul looking for completeness.

No one ever approached the end of life wishing they’d spent more time at work or less time with their children. It’s the people, relationships and things you value most in life you’ll want to remember and be remembered for. And successful business is all about successful relationships - with engaged employees, vendors and clients.

Celebrate being known as someone who’s building a life on his or her own terms. Understand the value this brings to your colleagues and workplace. This is increasingly true as the world of work continues to rapidly evolve, and flexibility and agility are no longer nice-to-have qualities but necessities. You’re already there.

If forging your own path is your style, let the words of Henry David Thoreau resonate with you: "If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away."

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