I really enjoyed an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live that Nihal Arthanayake had with Rachel Chinouriri. Rachel is a 19 year old singer/songwriter from Croydon and her family are from Zimbabwe. She is the youngest child in a large family and the only one to be born in England. She shared how, in her first school, she was acutely aware of being different amongst white friends. Her difference was not just about colour but culture, creativity and the way she simply chose to be. Yet when she changed school to an all black school, her then taste in music and difference was once again frowned at by her new friends. Rachel reflected how this and the fact she is the only person in her family not to speak their native language, contributed to her always feeling different. She then tells of how she went to Brit School, a performing arts and technology school in London where immediately she felt at home. Pupils are given the freedom to play, nurture their creativity and express their difference. Within weeks and in her performing career since leaving that school, Rachel shared how she no longer thinks about her difference as everyone is different, and is proud of it, in her community. She has found her home and her tribe.
This is a common conversation I have had with business founders. Regardless of their gender, race, culture, age, religion, disability, many business founders talk about the time when they had their aha moment that led them to start their own business and how that feeling of difference manifested. I have experienced this episodically throughout my own journey. There have definitely been times when I have sought out a change to be part of something which closer reflects who I am and where I feel my tribe hang out. Prior to the change, I feel a misfit.
Since starting my business and working with people in a similar situation, I have found a place where I feel most valuable and valued and my sense of belonging is stronger than ever. I no longer have that yearning that there is another place where I fit best. I am inhabiting that place.
Call it itchy feet or call it intuition, many of you will have hit that point where you want change, and subconsciously perhaps, you want your difference to be embraced. Why should you conform, compromise your values or ethics and tone down your thoughts and approach to fit in?
Are you comfortable to celebrate your difference and find a place where your difference is valued? To me this is bliss.