What Is A Positive Outlier?

Do you feel like you belong to your team? And feel free to swap out the word "team" for anything else. Family, neighborhood, club...

Let's talk about outliers.

We often think of “outliers” as rogues that act alone and do magnificent things. Sometimes bad things, but magnificent all the same. But I believe that everyone is an outlier, it just depends on the context. You are an outlier. Sometimes. Hopefully not always.

Outliers are “differing than.” Meaning, there needs to be some kind of normal for them to be differing from. There needs to be a "common" to have an outlier. There needs to be a wolf pack, for there to be a lone wolf.

Sometimes you’re the norm, and sometimes you’re the "differing than." The trick is knowing which is you, and where you stand.

So, let's say--hypothetically--that you're the cultural outlier in your job, and not in a good way. You're going against the flow, the non-wolf in the wolf-pack. You can be doing your work--and be very good at your work--and you can be true to yourself, but really you're not going to be "happy," right?

But, listen, there's nothing wrong with you. AND, you have a choice.

You can settle and show up to a place you don't "fit," or keep taking chances trying places that you might.

But, this is all hypothetical. Right?

The situation described may sound extreme, but it probably sounds familiar.

There's another kind of outlier: The positive outlier. The one who still doesn't "fit in" but contributes positively to the team. This person doesn't need to change anything about themselves, they just need to change the environment they are in.

Sometimes the outlier is exactly what a team needs.

For more blog posts like this, check out Know Thyself: What It Means To Be a Positive Outlier and Visualizing the Shape of Teams.