One of the early identifiers I find with people who are successful is the ability to Zig when everyone else Zags. Let me explain. As a high school teacher, conformity is not just taught by most high school curriculums, it is a safe place for students to be during school. For instance, sometimes at the end of a period, one kid will start grabbing their things to get ready for the next class. Sometimes they even line up at the door to go. When one student does this, almost all the students will follow suit. They literally have no idea why they are doing it. They only follow because that’s the conformity they have learned in 12 years of education. “Don’t fall out of line!” Mentally and socially I realize this is age appropriate for young people to do this. I used to get upset when students would fall into their lemming ways. Now I find opportunity in it.
When I find a student working and maximizing their time day in and day out, I realize there is something about this kid that is great. I open more doors for this young person. I have more conversations with this student. I ask what they are doing? What are they interested in? What do they want to learn next? What are their passions? Instead of focusing my efforts n the students who are just “Zagging”, the one who Zigs is telling me something special. By not doing what everyone else does, this person is subconsciously letting me know they are not interested in what everyone else is doing. They are telling me they are not a follower. They are telling me they work harder than their peers. They are telling me they have self awareness. This is why I want to learn more about them.
Most of the time these students will actually follow up with suggestions about their passion. They will reply to an email introduction. They will show you they actually do things. Rather than break others down, they choose to build themselves up. They are gritty. So the next time you are in a situation where you see everyone doing the same thing. Look for the few who do not conform. They have a reason for doing so. They are self aware. They will find success earlier.