Safe Is Not Remarkable

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
–Andre Gide

What are you thinking during that moment when you’re about to click the publish button on your blog? Are there times when you ask yourself if you should take out the paragraph that might offend someone? Are there times when you wonder who are you to be giving out advice? Are there times when you think you’ll look foolish because you’re going against common wisdom? What do you do in those moments? Do you publish anyway or do you play it safe?

If you play is safe, that moment is the moment between you and remarkable as Seth Godin put it today.

When you are sitting right on the edge of something daring and scary and creative and powerful and perhaps wonderful… and you blink and take a step back.

That’s the moment. The moment between you and remarkable.

Often remarkable will make you feel uncomfortable. It makes you want to blink and take a step back. Don’t. The reasons that make you hesitate before publishing are the reasons someone else is likely to take notice and comment on what you have to say. For every person you might offend you have another person who commends you. When you challenge convention you stand out.

Much of the time we do what the crowd is doing. It’s easy. It’s safe. But it’s not remarkable.

Not that you should always look to offend or go against the grain, but don’t let it stop you from saying what you want. Sometimes remarkable is scary. You’re not sure what others will think or say. But if they’re thinking and saying then you are being remarkable regardless of what it is they’re thinking and saying.

It’s easy to play it safe. It takes courage to be remarkable.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
–Robert F. Kennedy

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  1. I think this is amazingly great advice! When I first started commenting on blogs, I would frequently take the uncomfortable paragraph or sentence out before publishing my comments. Now, however, I am more comfortable publishing the uncomfortable. It takes a bit of courage, and you have to be willing to open yourself up to some attack and backlash, but I think it’s worth it.

  2. Like Guy Kawasaki says – polarise opinion.

    If you’re not trying to get ‘out there’ – you’ll never get out there!

  3. You have done a great job of bringing Seth’s insight into practical application like blogging. Rather than spending more type space waxing on about the safe rules, you have delivered a challenge that I get encouraged from. Stand out? In a culture that is so obsessed with taking our place in line? I appreciate your work here.

  4. Kristen I do the same thing more than I’d care to admit. Years ago I took some creative writing classes and during a class or my outside reading on the subject I remember coming across some advice. When you get to that point where the things you are writing are the things that you’re really afraid to say about yourself, the stuff you don’t want anyone to know, that’s the writing that will be the most interesting. I think it’s the same idea in conjunction with being remarkable. It does take courage and I’m with everyone else in needing to find more of that.

    That’s interesting Drew. I like the idea of ‘polarize opinion.’ It’s a sure way to get people talking. Some will be with you and some against, but they’ll be talking.

    Thanks Raymond. It’s funny, because when I first started writing the post I was thinking about talking more about the safe rules. When I tried to put some in it didn’t fit so I left them out. A part of this post, the challenge is a reminder to myself to meet that challenge. I have done my share of taking out sections of posts that might help make me stand out in some way. It’s harder to leave them in there than we think. But it’s important to say what you have to say and not worry about how others might see it.

    I think no matter what you do or so a certain amount of people will love it and a certain amount will hate it. It’s the rest who’s attention we’re working to get.

  5. Don’t be telling people stuff like this, Steven. I don’t need other people being as tactless and brutally honest as me!

    You forgot to target a major corporation and drive a truck through the holes in their company logic. There’s nothing quite like the Big Brother feeling of knowing someone is watching you from a company that you just slagged.

  6. Adam I was actually thinking about you while writing this post. You’re one person I knew didn’t need to be told not to play it safe. I thought your IBM post was great. Not playing it safe there at all. That has to be some of the worst customer service I’ve ever seen.

    Of course you’re pretty good at pushing the right buttons to get people to respond like that, but how dumb are there policies and how clueless are they? So how many IBM employees are now devoted to tailing you full time to watch your every move?

  7. It’s up in the 3 digit range now, dude. Even I didn’t think anything like that was going to happen.

    Funny thing was that I did the exact same thing with Bell Canada and not so much as a smidgen of attention to it. Could it be that IBM has something of a conscience? (Not bloody likely.)

    I love being thought about when a post is written about, although to be totally fair Bill probably does a much better job at not playing it safe than I do. That guy just does not give a damn!

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