The world is a bell curve. Classroom test scores, employee performance in a company or even how many people really, really like you. Regardless of the population we're studying, the people always fit neatly across the standard deviations of the famous bell curve.
The most important thing about the bell curve is that it’s 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 article: the insane.
If we look at our population at large, we see that the majority sits comfortably in the middle of the curve. So it begs the question, who sits on the sides? On the one end are those who end up in jail, in asylums or simply as outcasts. So who sits on the other side?
There are, in fact, two groups of society's misfits.
The first group, on 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 that most others don’t. Worse, they lack the ability to interact in normal society ... which is why we push them to the side and often wonder what to do with them.
On the left side of the curve is another group of misfits. Like their sisters and brothers on the opposite side of the curve, they also seem to live on another planet. They also see things that most 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 don’t and you fall on the right side of the curve, people call you insane. If you see things others don't and you're from the left side, people call you a visionary. If you march to the beat of your own drum on the right side, people call you an outcast. If you march to the beat of your own drum on the left side, people 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 left-siders are young in their careers, we walk out of meetings with them and think they are weirdos. When left-siders are advanced in their careers, we walk out of meetings and think they are geniuses.
This article 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 and the majority, the middle of the bell, doesn't understand you. They don't see what you see. They don’t imagine the world you envision.
I have one piece of advice for all of you left-siders: don't stop. Don't quit. Never give up trying to build the world you 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.
When you meet other left-siders, give them a wink, let them know you know. And most important, help them out when they need it. Because 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, find another left-sider and tell them the world you imagine. They 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.