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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 24-Jan-06


Wednesday 25-Jan-06 

Deliberate eccentricity

My family likes to consider itself as being liberated and individually-minded people. We are often seen as different in some way, and we are sometimes labeled as eccentric. However, there are two forms of eccentric persona: natural eccentrics and deliberate eccentrics. We fall firmly into the latter camp.

Natural eccentrics are unaware of their state and merrily march to their different drum, generally blind to the effect they have on others. In the blissful ignorance of their separate world they are usually so engrossed with aspects of their eccentricity, such as obsessive collection of some class of object, that they neither need nor notice the more 'normal' social spheres.

Deliberate eccentrics, on the other hand, are well aware of the effect that they have on others and use it to good effect.

Eccentrics, by definition, break social rules of some kind, whether it is the way they dress, how they talk or how they spend their spare time. As a result, others cut them some slack. A part of giving them the 'eccentric' label includes acceptance of their difference. Deliberate eccentrics take advantage of this to carve out an empowered space in which they have social permission to do things that others are not allowed to do.

Eccentricity is very much a matter of degree. You can be wildly bizarre and you can be just a bit different. Natural eccentrics often get left out because they walk too far into the left field. The trick of deliberate eccentricity is in pushing the boundaries such that you are empowered but not rejected. Deliberate eccentrics are thus both bold in their social transgressions and sensitive to when they are near to over-stepping the mark.

Whilst others may smile or frown at your eccentricity, they often will afford you a certain admiration as you do those things they would not dare to do. And some, emboldened by your breaking of the rules, will be encouraged to step over the line too. It is wonderful to watch the child-like (but not childish) glee as they realize that they can step outside the box without being struck down from on high.

Being a deliberate eccentric requires courage and confidence, as well as social sensitivity. If you can get there, you know it's a fun place to be!

Your comments

 Right on :-) I've never cared that others see me as eccentric. It's an empowering place where people allow you to be yourself.

-- marti

 This truth has been well told but it lacks the consequences of such a position. Many people have modeled this position. They were all great leaders. In order to really appreciate this article, we should take out the time to test this theory by studying the lives of those leaders. Leaders like: Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Martin Luther King, but most of all, Jesus should be studied in a eccentric point of view. This list should not exclude less like leaders because we study the effects of their leadership and not their thoughts. The focus is on power and the effects of it. When studying eccentric leaders like Hitler, we should only respect his or her influence on others, not evil thoughts.

-- --terry

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