The comic strip above has been developed specifically for this site. Moving forward, John Mark Strother will be providing his profound take on some of my blog topics via his visual. I’ve known John Mark a long time – in fact, all of his life. He is my brother.
What I’ve always respected most about him is his willingness to be who he is, without apology.
I remember when Mark was about six-years-old he received an electric football game for Christmas. If any of you remember those games, they involved tiny football men on platforms, tinier footballs made of felt, and a vibration device located under the metal football field. Turn on the device, and football men vibrated forward, sideways, backwards — any direction except the direction in which you hoped they would go.
My brother played this game for a few days, frustrated by the lack of direction offered by the game. One day, he filled up an empty applesauce jar with water. He broke off all of the football players at the base and placed them in the jar. Then he would shake the jar up and watch the men interact in a watery cyclone.
You can imagine that my parents weren’t too happy, but my brother was totally satisfied. He created his own game that involved more predictability and a much more fluid motion. He never regretted that move, and I must admit I spent a lot of time shaking that glass applesauce jar just to see the men spin around. We were a simple family.
One of the biggest issues I see with change efforts is an unwillingness of some to follow their own drumbeat. They are concerned that their new ideas will stick out, that people will resist, and others will roll their eyes at the unique contributions of someone who thinks they have a right to be different.
Those who dare to be different are those that will change their lives, their organizations, and their world. Steve Jobs tooks risks that few others would, and often failed. But he was, above all, true to his beliefs and passions. This holiday season I think we each need to be willing to fail a little more and stop risking our dreams so that we can blend in to a world that might just need a little change.
My brother taught me that sometimes we need to follow our own drummer, even if others don’t approve of the beat we’ve selected. It’s okay; at least we took the chance. Improvement would never have occurred without those who thought the world was round when others were sure it was flat, or those that took to the air when others believed we were meant to keep our feet on the ground.
So, to my brother and all those others who dare to be different, I salute you. In my own year of change I am striving to move forward. You are my inspiration.