Where do outliers live?

Are you here because you read and loved the book Outliers. Yes I have read that too. Just setting the expectations right, this blog got nothing to do with the book Outliers.

I have been an outlier all my life. I felt left out of my gang in college due to my crazy passion for technology. Things didn’t change much even after I entered the workforce. The problem is that the Tech-domain is not gender diverse. Most of the times it was just me and bunch of guys and the tech stuff in a meetup. I got used to this unfair reality over a period. It was hard to shove away the fact that I was an outlier.

The world portrays outliers as the ones who live on the extreme ends of a bell curve. As an outlier you don’t have to see everything like rest of the world does. So, where do we actually live?

When I saw myself as an outlier, I pretty much did the same. I felt distant from the crowd, and the distance was proportional to my passion. A lot of times I felt suffocated doing what I love the most. In my head the more I do what I love the more I got crunched towards the ends of the bell curve. One day, I changed my perspective of looking at it as a circle and I’m living in its center. In this blog, I am sharing three instances from my life that changed my perspective

1. Outliers – center of attention

Outliers are easily noticeable in a crowd because they stand out. Duh. I felt the same way when I recently switched my job and joined a bigger team. The first few weeks I was not a crucial part of anything. I didn’t understand a thing that was happening around me. I was a non-working part of an intensely moving environment. But this time before freaking out, I took a step back and started observing my surroundings. I logged every new word I heard about the product, listened to all the discussions happening around me and how conversations flowed through the hierarchies and finally got implemented.

By continually doing this for a couple of days I no longer felt like I do not belong instead I was in the center of a super busy world.

2. All level of transparency

Once I saw this working I was wondering how it worked out when I was at my previous company. Back then I was not even a part of a big engineering team. We were 3 developers in the middle of 50 recruiters in a consulting firm trying to automate their redundant work using chatbots.

Instead of feeling left out, I heard their struggles before even starting to think about ways to solve them. Since it was a small team, I was there in every meeting. My end-users were sitting with me. I was into Design, Engineering, Management, sometimes even Marketing and Sales. There was complete transparency in decision making.

When you are an outlier, with bell curve visualization, you miss out on so many details around you, The moment you switch it and see yourself in the center you have transparency in layers of people around you. You understand why people behave the way they do or why things happen in a certain way and not the other.

3. A crowd is a person

I have mentioned “Feeling left out” quite a lot on this blog. But this final incident made me mentally commit to the fact that feeling that way is fine because you are forming a crowd without acknowledging it.

I was about to my bike from the parking lot, and my office has 2 exits to meet the main road. There was an “easy route” where you didn’t have to get stuck in traffic due to 2 – 10-minute signals But, is a one-way during the peak hours of the day, and other is where you go through everything mentioned above. Sometimes the traffic police ignore it when a lot of bikes take the route together.

That day, I badly wanted to take the easy route because it was less tiring. I was looking at every bike that went out of my office to see if they were taking the easy route. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

This incident changed my perspective of being an outlier completely. I realized that If just one person took the easy route that day, I would have followed him and together we would have attracted few more people to join us.

It may look like you live in a crazy island all by yourself. The truth is you are the center of attraction. A lot of people are constantly watching you. The moment you produce positive results you attract more people towards you and your island gets crowded.

To Conclude,

The moment you picture yourself as an outlier living in the center, you become a magnet grabbing a lot of attention. Instead of shying away from it, we need to focus on understanding and expressing your thoughts to the world around you. When your force gets strong enough, you will have people joining you as to take part in your mission.