A Different Drummer

January 27, 2016 by FlexPro

turingWe’ve all heard the expression he or she ,”marches to the beat of a different drummer”.  Generally we recognize these people as those who think or behave in a way that’s different from those around them. We all know someone like this – the odd duck – the one who views or interprets things uniquely. It could be a family member, a friend or even a member of your project management team. Their eccentric ways can be frustrating, especially when their take on things is often so different from the norm. Too frequently their thoughts and ideas are simply dismissed because it’s just, “Suzy with her head in the clouds again.” The problem is, these are the very people we should be sitting up and paying attention to. These are the “outside the box” thinkers. The people who can see what the rest of us can’t . The very ones who can open our eyes to new and different ideas. They’re the intuitive forward thinkers. The innovators and the misunderstood!

By definition an innovator is someone who makes changes in something established, especially by introducing new materials, ideas or products. Innovators are passionate and they see the world differently. Their vision is precisely what makes them unique. Some of the most “out there” thinkers we are all familiar with include, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, Leonardo Da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, The Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Their passion and belief in themselves, often in the wake of ridicule, led these people to pursue their “crazy” ideas with vigor. We all know the end results.

I recently watched the movie The Imitation Game again. For those of you not familiar, the movie is “based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing. The film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cyber School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II”.  Alan Turing is, “a largely arrogant, antisocial, solitary and literal minded man, Alan is the bane of the team’s existence, especially that of his superior…“. He is the odd duck. I won’t ruin the movie for you if you haven’t seen it, just suffice it to say we can all appreciate Alan Turing’s work. In one of my favorite scenes at the end there is an exchange between the female lead, Joan and Turing. She tells him, “The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren’t normal”. He questions whether she really believes that and her answer is one of my all time favorite quotes: “I think that sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

The movie plot inspired me to realize how important it is for all of us to recognize the potential in others and most especially in those who seem so very different from ourselves. Why not consider:

Being open-minded and inclusive.  Alan Turing published a puzzle in a newspaper and asked that anyone  who could solve this puzzle and another puzzle in 6 minutes be chosen for a job. He allowed a woman to participate even in an era where women would never be considered for this type of work.

Appreciating different personalities, even difficult ones.  Alan Turing was not well-liked and was socially-awkward, but he had a lot to contribute. Often people with great personalities and charm are the only ones who get the job. Try to get the best out of people even if they are not the easiest to like.

Working together as a team.  Alan Turing tried to work on his own but he was able to better break the enigma code when he took advice from his peers on the team.

So as we enter into a new year with new adventures before us, I’d like to raise my glass and offer a New Year’s toast to those that “march to the beat of a different drummer”! May the sun always shine on your parade and may you all continue to create, design and inspire us with your wisdom.

Happy New Year from the FlexPro Group!

-Lynn Faughey, FlexPro COO

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