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Going Against The Crowd

Updated: Nov 17, 2019

Owning disruption in your pursuit of goals

I was in Toronto the other week for client work and a supplier diversity conference. As I walked to my conference one morning I felt very uncomfortable. It was peak commuter time and I was going against the crowd. I was at odds with the flow; I kept having to move around people. There was an overwhelming number of people coming at me. It was work and it was difficult contending with that big and busy crowd.

I persisted, however, as I knew my intended destination was in front of me. I knew I was going in the right direction - it just wasn’t the direction of the masses. With extra work and some football maneuvers, I successfully arrived. Despite having to go against the crowd, I followed my path to my intended destination. I arrived at where I knew I needed to go.

Are You Following or Leading?

The experience got me thinking of situations when you are different, aren’t the norm or may not be following the crowds. You’ve likely experienced it or have seen it happen. It means you are going against the popular opinion and having to work harder than those following the crowds. In our highly social world, we are presented every day with people, situations and examples of what others are doing. There’s often inferred social approval of the way people and things should be …and the way you should be. If you see a theme several times, does that mean you should follow? Or should you go your own path? Should you be your own approval of your self and life?

The theme of being different is one that has often found its way into my own life and career. There have been times when I know I am seen to be or act differently. It took me some time to figure out that in my professional work I was an intrapreneur. While I did good work, I often frustrated my bosses and team members as I wanted to do it my way or had other ideas, sometimes many ideas, on the topic. With experience and success, I’ve come to understand what makes me able to be myself and still do great work for others and with others.

Be an Original

I was inspired to re-read Adam Grant’s book The Originals. He shares his views and stories on what it means to go against the grain or be creative. There are success stories that show how these Originals have impacted our worlds. These are stories of leaders, often leaders without titles, who have used their voice, taken risks, tried many ideas and failed along the path to success.

Dissenting opinions are useful even when they're wrong. So instead of speaking to highly agreeable audiences, target suggestions to people with a history of originality - Adam Grant

I approach my work with a view that personal brand and leadership brand are both very important to results. In defining a leader’s brand, it is not about who they are like; rather, it is about who they are in their own distinctive personality.

Each of us is unique in our own way. Your personal brand is your most valuable lifetime asset.

At the heart and success to Pivotal Coaching’s programs is the definition of you and your brand. The leadership you need to lead results is based on your personality, purpose, skills, execution and leadership presence (Leadership Lessons From Mom). This may sound pretty coach-like, so here’s where you can get into a little more business context: The One Thing You Need For Growth.I am able to discuss evidence-based personality answers with my clients. I am certified and use a psychometric called TAIS.

Get Uncomfortable

I write often about the need to work from a place of discomfort. The starting point is the typically straight-forward part with an end goal that can be envisioned. The middle part, or getting to work, is where it gets hard. I’ve begun to call this the “messy middle”, as at times the middle phase adds chaos to order, comfort, confidence, mindset, success and traditional learning.

Getting to work means making changes, learning, trying new things and practicing. It may mean failing at things to get to your end goal.

I believe in the potential of people and, in particular, the impact of great leadership.

We each have an ownership of leadership.

While other professionals focus on process, technology and ideas, I am committed to extending the reach of leadership development in a more impactful way. I believe in the commercialization of executive coaching for a business’ financial results. I get feedback that I have chosen a profession that is highly competitive and hard to scale, yet I’m not deterred in the potential I see on this path for leader development. I look to methodologies like Prosci and Lean and know they started as someone’s passion and individual approach.

Our opportunity for growth and innovation is as leaders who embrace the diversity and the individuality of each person.

We need to get good at helping them work to their individual potential and team potential.

Your potential is to know and use all of your individuality, or original, personality to do great work. Where do you start with knowing and challenging your status quo?

Suggested readings:

Adam Grant, The Originals

Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers


Lisa W. Haydon is the President and Founder of Pivotal Coaching Inc. She left her comfortable corporate career several years ago to follow her passion of helping people realize their potential and companies to realize high performance. Lisa is a growth focused entrepreneur, leadership development consultant and certified executive coach. To her clients, she brings business experience with prestigious corporations and continuous education. Lisa’s work in business operations and B to B sales expertise allowed her to create a differentiated coaching model and client experience. Lisa and Pivotal Coaching are known for 1:1 and cohort Programs in leadership development and sales effectiveness.

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