You Don’t Become A Hero By Being Normal

Driving to meet a (hopefully) new client, I saw this tagline on a giant movie billboard: “You don’t become a hero by being normal”.

Ain’t that the truth?

History is littered with non-normals who made indelible marks. Joan of Arc. Vincent Van Gogh. Gandhi.

Here’s the thing.

Our minds are on overload. Our fast-paced culture has trained us to ignore normal. Instead, we search out the new. The different. The un-normal.

So standing out takes cajones. It means taking risks. It means you’re gonna feel quaky in your bones some days.

But do it anyway.

In case you need a little nudge, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Publish an unexpected—maybe even shocking—blog post or article.

Create a piece of “art” and put it out there (a photograph, a new design, a point of view).

Pitch a client who is a total and complete stretch for you, but makes you quiver with excitement.

Take on the big kahuna in your industry with a thoughtful, compelling—opposite—point of view.

Ditch the website speak that sounds like everyone else in favor of your own unique, fresh voice.

Tell yourself normal is for sissies.
p.s. That potential client I was meeting? With the billboard reverberating in my head, I shared a couple of outrageous things I’d achieved for other clients dealing with his hot button. He hired me.



  • If you look at the movers and shakers and innovators throughout history, very few were ‘normal’ but rather had that creative spark that set them apart from everyone else. In a world with 7 billion people, normal is definitely a way to stay lost in the crowd!

  • So very true Steven. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  • Rochelle,
    This is an outstanding post. Cool-funny and truly insightful, great job.

  • Congrats on winning the client.
    (Somehow I missed an email from you on Monday so it occurred to me to check in and I finally did – and was glad I did).
    I usually talk of not following the crowd but one’s muse. I view normal as the expected; it can change from time to time so that what was once normal no longer is; that makes being out there even more fun; you can simply re-introduce something that was normal back in the day and gain the attention deserved.
    One thing I find though — and it really surprises me – being a rock, steady, consistent, even dependable are no norms (as much as I would argue that they be).

  • Glad you found it Corey! I think being a rock is underrated in the current world. All moves so fast that our attention gets captured by the newest and loudest. But how comforting to rely upon an advisor who is rock-solid, steady, reliable. It’s the human equivalent of comfort food. Necessary, appreciated, savored…

  • Lordy lordy! Today is the day that I needed to be reminded of this.

    I’m about to launch a new service and it’s scaring me to death. Your post tells me it’s time to get on the stick and do this already.

  • As a Brit, I’m genetically pre-disposed to be as invisible and low key as possible. But normal won’t get us change, leadership or the society (ies) we want and need.
    So yes, I’m learning to be controversial and challenging, and in my professional field of leadership development – it’s a must.
    I see that to stand out – we need to develop people with the willingness, courage and desire to be outstanding. For me Rochelle, you’re one of those!
    best wishes, Helen

  • Oz–how did I miss your post? You must do it–no time like the present 🙂

  • Hi Helen, thanks for the compliment (FYI–I was raised in New England where modesty is also expected)!

    Leadership development is crying out for some bold moves–and challenge and controversy are musts. Cheering you on from this corner!

  • Standing by my original comments and your response!

  • Love it! Makes me feel right at home, I try not to be “normal”, actually, I don’t have to try so hard. The article gives me some comfort in being who I am.
    Thank you.

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