What Happen When Everyone Thinks They’re An Outlier?

My friend, Laurie Ruettimann, made a comment to me the other day, in regards to HR and Talent Blogging to the affect of, “everyone thinks they’re an outlier, Tim.”

She’s right.

It’s partly that people who blog, like me, are fairly high the narcissism scale.  We tend to believe that what we say and how we say are different than what others say and how they would say it.  It’s not, but that’s how we think.  Hold up.  Let me stop using “we”, because I’m quite certain this nice little HR and Talent blogging community hasn’t chosen me to speak!

I tend to believe anyone could say what I say if they decided they wanted to.  They just decide they would rather read my opinion, than go out, half-crazed and share their opinion on everything in the industry.

She is also very wrong.

There are very few Outliers in the HR and Talent blogging community. So, this point is mostly irrelevant. Just because someone thinks they’re the Pope doesn’t make them the Pope. It makes them crazy.

Outliers in blogging aren’t just people saying things first, or differently.  They are people who are saying things of interest.  They are helping to change the way the profession works.

I take a look at the work of Glen Cathey does and say, holy shit, I need to get better! He’s an Outlier.  I take a look at how Kris Dunn explains performance management in a real context to real HR pros, that I can grasp, that I can take back to my hiring managers and make real change without having a PhD. He’s an Outlier. I take a look at how Laurie challenges how I deeply think about a subject, and sways my opinion to be more open about how others think. She’s an Outlier.

The concept is when everyone believes they’re an outlier, no one is an outlier.  I don’t buy that, because I know the truth above. There are true Outliers.  There are a few brilliant people who shape opinion and slowing get an industry to move in other directions.

So, guess what?  You’re not an Outlier.  You think you are, but you’re not.  Sorry. Buy a helmet, life sucks sometimes.


8 thoughts on “What Happen When Everyone Thinks They’re An Outlier?

  1. No, if everyone thinks they’re outlier, some of them outliers, and some are not.

    It’s not about what people think, but what they are.

  2. Whether you consider yourself an outlier or not, you should know when to use “affect” and when to use “effect” (see sentence #1 in the blog entry). Credibility is helped by correct usage.

  3. very interesting post Tim, thanks. I think outliers are brilliant and when I worked at companies I looked for them and asked them to be my mentor. Maybe not in those words, but I’ve tried to observe these people and model their behavior in one way or another. And I’ve held on to these people as friends/colleagues, etc. so I could tap into their brilliance.

    But I also think being an outlier is intrinsic – my outlier may not be yours. HR bloggers, to me, are outliers because they do something I cannot do well – eloquently compose their thoughts quickly in a way that resonates with people.

  4. All true. An outlier to me can either be someone who very few people understand..and you almost are talking to themselves or, as you were infer, or someone who can speak/act to those in that first ‘standard deviation’ in such a way that they see the possibilities and collectively move their ‘normative’ distribution a bit to the right or left- benefiting all (sometimes none). The trick isn’t being an outlier but knowing when to plant the seed, when to water it and when to join the rest in harvesting the crop.

  5. And of course, I referenced Paul’s quote when I shared this on LinkedIn. Because none of us is original. HA!

    This is the same argument organizations use when they force a bell curve. I’m not saying it’s the wrong argument – most people are “average” (which is why it’s called that). I’m just saying that any argument can be used wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.