Why Your Difference is Important

It is your difference from others, not your commonality with others that marks your creative spark, your individuality, originality, and personal genius (whatever your IQ). It is your difference that makes you stand out from the crowd and that makes you strong.

This is today more valid than any time before in human history, for in modern society being different is often seen now as the mark of a leader, a signal for high self-esteem and for the least an indication that somebody has taken the decision to achieve his or her life’s purpose.

The leaders and forerunners of the international network society are typically not fond of being big boring mainstream. But the question is, do you really mark a difference by the way you behave and come over to others, or are you just fanciful and vainglorious? Fact is that others perceive our intentions, they have a felt sense when we come over as twisted or when we play a role. They may not voice their suspicion but when you have to count on their approval and their collaboration, for example in the workplace, it will be important for you to get the right message over.

It is generally true that true self-thinkers are beyond mainstream categories, as they unite in themselves intellectual excellence, virtue, a critical mind and a basically spiritual approach to life, and because they welcome difference and respectful exchange between people. It is this sort of people who are looking for avenues of building and sharing a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary regard upon the many facets of life, society, emotions, art, creativity, and professional standing and success.

In my studies of the I Ching, I have become acutely aware of its unique quality for teaching leadership, and for confronting the metagroup, society, and generally other people in the right way, a path that I came to call ‘the middle way’. It’s an attitude of prudence and foresight, but it is not, behold, a coward attitude, nor a conforming attitude. I think it’s important to see that, and I provide here some quotes to back what I am saying.

While the I Ching says in hexagram 57 (Gentleness) that ‘submissiveness can further one in achieving minor things, it emphasizes in Line 3 that ‘being overly submissive, one loses one’s confidence.’

This is a stunningly correct insight. While submissiveness may help to reap minor advantages, in the sense that ‘being nice to people’ is always helpful in a way and may bring some little advantages, a real breakthrough cannot be based upon such an attitude. In the contrary does the I Ching boldly affirm that when you foster such an attitude over time, you will lose your self-confidence, and your self-esteem and sense of purpose in life will decrease.

Line 6 is even more explicit as here, the I Ching says that when one is ‘too subservient, one loses property and protection.’ Think about it! It means that when you are too subservient, when you lower yourself too much socially, when you become an underling or a footmat for others, you risk to lose your property, and your protection.

Now, readers who are excessively gentle (like myself) may nod, and perhaps bemoan their inner setup.

There is of course nothing wrong with gentleness, but any personal characteristics that becomes excessive will be counter-productive in the process of personal development and success.

Yet the way out of that cultural trap is not to build aggressiveness that is displayed outwardly but some kind of strength built inwardly. That is the way I went through myself, and still go through at this point in time. Feeling very different from the herd of other males since my childhood, I have discovered this method of inner development through my studies of Eastern philosophies, Zen, and particularly the I Ching.

Community-driven publishing and organizing people around common values is nothing new for me. I can see what makes success, it’s persistent effort and synchronicity joining hands. The effort can well be on an individual basis but the synchronicity comes about only when people do things in sync, which means in a team, and not single-handedly. It’s when effort joins effort that something higher comes into being—this is then what attracts others to join. It’s an energy, truly.

The reason why community efforts fail most of the time is related to selfishness, in the sense of people in a group doing things single-handedly and with a single leadership motivation, then throwing their achievements over the head of the group. Once the community runs, the effort of every single member of the group must have transformed into an effort that is kind of detached from the personal goals of the person. It becomes something like a community purpose that is shared.

Hence there is an inner alchemy silently operating in everybody in the group. More the group becomes coherent, more the initial individual efforts are dissolved and gradually replaced by a shared quantum field of community-driven efforts. When that process is inhibited, because the coherence process is stuck because of various factors, then the community will eventually break apart. That is why there must be motivators or at least one respected motivator in the group: it’s usually the founder or a founding member, somebody who knows the rules of the game, and who also knows the members. The integrative figure.

My experience with group life has been negative since my very first semesters at law school in Germany. There was always one, if not several queer heads in the group, whatever kind of grouping, if political, social or other, who were not understanding that in a group you have to listen before you talk, and that group decisions very seldom can fully implement the ideas of all participating members.

The art of group life is to refrain from being absolutist, dogmatic and authoritarian; usually it is those who have never built true autonomy that are the worst-behaving members in groups. Most often they use the group to let out some of their steam, to discharge some of their pent-up emotions, their rage, their age-old anger, while they actually want to build the same pseudo-fusional bonds with the other people in the group as they maintain it with their parents. This is the true reason why they come over as so highly obnoxious not only to the people around them, but also to themselves, once they realize their hangup.

But group life is not set out for being therapeutic to people, except in selfhelp groups. The crux is that the attractiveness of that belonging-to that the adherence to a group provides in most cases triggers many of those people to join, who actually abuse of group life, in most cases without becoming aware of their inner entrapment.

It’s that they find in groups the projection-arena for putting on stage their control drama, unconsciously wanting to heal it. But it destroys not only their relationships with other group members, but in many cases also the group as a whole, which is why it’s so fallacious to accept such kind of people as members. But there are so many of them in current society that it’s almost impossible to grow a group today without facing many applicants of that sort—where you actually know from the start that it’s going to turn foul later on.

Now, to come back at our main topic, it may be misleading to some readers that I talked about group dynamics in the present context, but it was an important tangent. If you go the way of conformity, group life will never be a challenge for you, but in that case, it will also not serve as an opportunity for greater personal development. For the authentic individual, the person who knows he or she is different from the herd, and marks this difference in all their behavior—without being arrogant or displaying a superior attitude—group life will be inspiring when the group is functional.

The functionality of the group does not depend on those who recognize their difference; it depends on those who are conformists but think they are different and ‘interesting’. Group life is dysfunctional not because people get together who are all different, it’s dysfunctional when there are people who have not a grain of self-knowledge and who project all their repressed thoughts and desires upon other group members. This kind of toxic atmosphere is what I have experienced in groups early in life, but this experience rather confirms what I am saying here.