Most kids start out weird. They haven’t learned how to behave “properly” and aren’t born with a sense of etiquette and how to “fit in”. Somewhere along the way, many of us give that up. However, if you want your creative work to stand out, start putting your weird back in your work.
As author and designer James Victore points out, many of us have attributes about our personality that are great, but are afraid to put that in our work for fear of being weird. We want our work to be better and more personal, but we want to fit in and avoid getting in trouble too. The result is that our work can suffer:
As a teacher, I often see first-hand the fear my students have of their weirdness. Inevitably I have to take one or two of ’em aside and point out to them that they are funny, smart, and charming. After the praise, I become serious and further point out that their work is neither funny, smart, nor charming. It is the perfect “A-ha!” moment.
Fearing to expose themselves, they have excluded WHO they are from their work in order to make it fit in and look normal (read: perfectly professional and seriously bland). My very loud lesson is, “Put your weird in your work!” Sometimes, all we need is someone to give us the courage and permission to be weird professionally. After all, if your work appeals to everyone, it moves no one.
Obviously, if your work involves spreadsheets and lots of maths, being weird and goofy with it probably isn’t the best thing. Most other areas, though, can benefit from a little weirdness. If you think your work could be better, take some risks. Tap into that part of you that the child version of yourself had and see if maybe the weird kid has some good ideas after all.