Innovators and Early Adopters

November 21, 2011

The Left-Siders by Simon Sinek (blog)

The world is a bell curve. Class room test scores, employee performance in a company or how many people really, really like you. No matter the population you’re studying, they always fit neatly across the standard deviations of the famous bell curve. The most important thing about the bell curve is that it is always balanced. If there are high performers on one side, there are low performers on the other. It is always balanced. Which brings me to the topic of this blog: the insane.

innovators and early adopters

If we look at our population at large, we know that there are some that don’t seem to fit well within the majority…in the middle of the curve. On the one side are the ones who end up in jail, in asylums or simply as outcasts. We know that this population exists, then what’s on the other side to balance them off?

There are, in fact, two groups of society’s misfits.

The first group, from the right side of the curve, are the socially dysfunctional misfits. These are the groups I just mentioned. They don’t seem to live on the same planet as everyone else. They see things the most others can’t. Worse, they lack the ability to interact in normal society. Which is why we push them to the side and point at them.

On the left side of the curve is another group of misfits. Like their brothers and sisters from across the curve, they also seem to live on another planet. They also see things most others can’t. However, they are able to live what appear to be normal lives – i.e. they are socially functional. But don’t be fooled. They are still misfits.

If you see things others can’t and you’re from the right side of the curve, they call you insane. If you see things others can’t and you’re from the left side, they call you a visionary. If you march to the beat of your own drum from the right side, they call you an outcast. If you march to the beat of your own drum from the left side, they call you unique or authentic.

The left-siders live among us, but they are not always easy to spot. You may have interacted with one at work once or twice. When they are young in their careers, we walk out of meetings with them and think they are weirdos. When they are advanced in their careers, we walk out of meetings with them and think they are geniuses.

This blog is for the left-siders out there. You know who you are. The worst part about being a left sider is that it’s lonely. There are not that many out there, the majority – the middle of the bell – don’t understand you. They can’t see what you see. They can’t imagine the world you can.

I have one word of advice for all of you – don’t stop. Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound. And most importantly, when you meet other left-siders, give them a wink, let them know you know…and help them out when they need it.

The only way the left-siders change the world is when they band together to help each other.

If you suspect you’re a left-sider – email me or find another left-sider and tell them the world you imagine. We may know someone who can help you build it.

If you suspect you know someone who is a left-sider, stay close to them, protect them and help them. Often, they are their own worst enemies. They can get in their own way and, if they can’t clearly communicate the things they can see, others will fear them or ostracize them. The reason to help them, however, is that they are the ones who lead us into the future. They are the ones who change the world.

Beginning as a student in anthropology, Simon Sinek turned his fascination with people into a career of convincing people to do what inspires them. His earliest work was in advertising, moving on to start Sinek Partners in 2002, but he suddenly lost his passion despite earning solid income. Through his struggle to rediscover his excitement about life and work, he made some profound realizations and began his helping his friends and their friends to find their “why” — at first charging just $100, person by person. Never planning to write a book, he penned Start With Why simply as a way to distribute his message.

Sinek also contributes to several efforts in the non-profit sphere: He works with Count Me In, an organization created to help one million women-run businesses reach a million dollars in revenue by 2012, and serves on the Board of Directors for Danspace Project, which advances art and dance. He writes and comments regularly for several major publications and teaches a graduate-level class in strategic communications at Columbia University.

“I try to find, celebrate and teach leaders how to build platforms that will inspire others. ”

– Simon Sinek

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