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Uniquely Better

August 2, 2022

I go to Twitter for two things: sports and breaking news.

But somehow I have “liked” something, or followed someone, along the way that has affected the algorithm and filled my feed with architecture posts. It’s random, but occasionally, I’ll stop and take a closer look at a thread that catches my attention. One recently was titled, “The Danger of Minimalist Design.”

The post contained a string of pictures comparing minimalist telephone booths, benches, and fences, to those with more color and detail. The point was clear. If all design elements adopt the minimalist movement, we’ll lose what makes structures unique and fun to look at!

Isn’t that true, even beyond architecture?

The things that stand out have identifiable features that make them special and different.

One of our core values of ADDO is: Wow. We say:

If it’s not WOW, it’s not worth doing.

In other words, if we aren’t willing to challenge the status quo and approach problems from a new perspective, we don’t have a unique purpose, and we probably won’t make a lasting impact on the world around us.

But this is easier said than done. In modern culture, we’re constantly pressed to blend in, be more realistic, and for the sake of everyone’s feelings, to not rock the boat. We’re encouraged, more than anything else, to be “normal.”

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, wrote a final letter to his shareholders in February of 2021. In it, he challenges them saying, “In what ways does the world pull at you in an attempt to make you normal? How much work does it take to maintain your distinctiveness? You have to pay a price for your distinctiveness… don’t expect it to be easy or free.” 

Entrepreneur and author Seth Godin similarly said, “If you’re remarkable, it’s likely some people won’t like you.”

Doing things differently comes at a cost. It’s difficult to be different. We have a goal at ADDO to equip 10 million counter-cultural change makers. You know what? We will never build leaders that are counter-cultural if we aren’t counter-cultural ourselves!

In what ways are you or your organization pressed to be normal, rather than uniquely better? The things worthwhile are often unique and different. 

If you’re looking for permission to be different, permission granted. 

To be sure, when you do something that stands out, the world will try to bring you back to the mean. You may be discouraged, or even discredited, when you do something differently. 

Keep being different anyway. Be uniquely better. 


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