What we get from the things that don’t belong

Our first reaction to an encounter something that seemingly doesn’t belong is to ridicule it.

If it, whatever it is, doesn’t belong it could be dangerous to our familiar way of doing things, putting our hard-earned beliefs and processes at risk. Nobody wants to be told that idea they’ve had their entire life, it turns out, wasn’t right. Or that the way they’ve always done something is the actually the most inefficient way of doing it.

It’s only natural that we reject the new and different in favor of the old and familiar, particularly if what’s new is naturally out of place.

But what we miss by rejecting those things that occasional misplaced is an opportunity to improve; ourselves, our work, or our environment.

That wacky coworker or classmate might make you roll your eyes, but they also have the ability to make you see things in a different way. Adding an item that doesn’t belong into your environment might at first be a distraction, but it also might make you start doing things in an unfamiliar, empowering way.

Sometimes you can’t beat a good old pen and paper for taking notes while everyone else is writing on their laptop (research shows this old-fashioned way of doing things actually helps retain more knowledge).

Using a satirical, oversized marker and a huge pad of paper might make you feel silly in a meeting, but it also might cause you to focus on the big-picture rather than the unnecessary details.

And if you fill a building with a bit of nature you might start to reevaluate how you think about the environments you spend so much time in every day.

The odd thing in a familiar place can often cause us to see things in a different way. And just because not everyone sees the value in the strange doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. Not everyone needs to accept the thing that doesn’t belong initially, that’s why we label it as something that “doesn’t belong.”

Of course we know this because the likes of Einstein, Picasso, Beethoven, Curie all had their ideas and work rejected by the populace out of the gate.

We don’t get to discover the creative—the new and valuable—unless we’re willing to look at something that doesn’t belong and ask ourselves: what does this cause me to see or think in a new way?

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