Day 6 - Fearlessly Marching to the Beat of Different Drum

Alexander SteinDec 18 · 3 min read

During the month of December, Buddy will highlight, the Twelve Days of Fearlessness. Whether it is getting up the nerve to lace up your old ice skates with your five-year-old or conquering a halfpipe like your teenage days, fearlessness is not just situational for all- for some, it is a way of life.

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash
Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

‘Marching to the beat of a different drum.’

It’s a phrase that has become all too familiar for most of us in the English speaking world. Through our lives and interactions with others in a world of standardization, globalization, and generalized conformity to norms, it’s easy for us to develop a perception that marching to the beat of a different drum should be viewed as a negative. I often find myself guilty of this same pattern of thinking. Non-conformity and variations from the familiar can be uncomfortable. In many instances, it is even fair to say that our norms exist thanks to many generations of trial, tribulation, and error all culminating in the present.

Through trial we develop our successes, and from those successes we learn to replicate the patterns that led to our initial victories. We then share our knowledge of these patterns in order to allow others an opportunity to achieve the same positive results. In turn, and through the ages, our sharing of these patterns develop common societal standards. These standards allow the vast majority of us to find success in our own lives without ever experiencing the crippling failures borne by those who did not achieve the same success. Through our standards and uniformity, we have a unique opportunity to live our entire adult lives without ever having to know what it’s like to fall down… at least in an existential sense.

Given that we can happily coast and ride the waves of others’ discoveries, why on earth would any of us ever choose the more painful path of trial when the potential for failure is ever present?

Ultimately, there are many answers to this question.

For some, the need to follow an alternate path comes from an innate sense of stubbornness, or more simply from a desire to be perceived as different. We often refer to these individuals as “hard-headed”.

Others find themselves unable to truly learn life’s lessons without first experiencing the same trials that led to our collective solutions in the first place. In education, these individuals are referred to as “experiential learners”.

One other possible answer to the above question is that some individuals are simply not content to live in a static or stagnant world. For these individuals, the value of life will always center around the journey and an ever present need to learn or to discover. It is on their shoulders that the vast majority of us find our contented and comfortable lives. They are our explorers, our trailblazers, and are very often our fearless leaders. These are the individuals who dare to question our norms despite the ever-present possibility (or likelihood) that they may fail.

For some, the paths found by marching to the beat of a different drum, though terrifying and potentially fraught with peril, bring with them opportunities anew. They offer unique experiences and chances to improve themselves, the lives of those around them, or potentially even the world at large.

These are the sorts of people we remember in life. They are the history makers who initiate our collective journeys toward bigger and brighter futures.

It is through their fearlessness that we as a species find our ability to grow.

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer? If the condition of things which we were made for is not yet, what were any reality which we can substitute? We will not be shipwrecked on a vain reality. Shall we with pains erect a heaven of blue glass over ourselves, though when it is done we shall be sure to gaze still at the true ethereal heaven far above, as if the former were not?”

- Henry David Thoreau - Walden (1854)


Alexander Stein is Founder and director of Bluetec, a Cyber-security focused IT services firm. He originally posted this article on the Bluetec blog, and the article is republished here with permission.

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