When using the term ‘outlier’ as it pertains to statistics, it’s defined as ‘a data point on a graph or in a set of results that is very much bigger or smaller than the next nearest data point.’
When using the term as it relates to people, it’s defined as ‘someone who stands apart from others of his or her group, as by differing behavior, beliefs, or religious practices.’
I think I’ve always felt I was an outlier. I was the only boy and the oldest of 6 children. I have a unique first name that as a kid, always drew questions like “Is that a boy’s name?’ or “What kind of name is that?’ or ‘I’ve never met a boy named Maxie. Who were you named after?’
It also attracted laughter, jokes and funny name-calling such as Maxine, Maxie Waxy, Maxie Smaxie and yes, even Maxi-Pad, just to name a few. It even led to my being bullied unmercifully for two years at the age of 12, before I finally had as much as I could handle and confronted the situation.
In my Senior year of high school, I got a draft notice addressed to Maxine Carpenter from the Women’s Air Corps (WACS). That would have been something if I’d been accepted, huh? To this day, I still get some mail to that name or return emails from senders addressing me as a female in the text of the message because they don’t pay attention to the detail of my text.
Over the years, I’ve come to embrace my name and my uniqueness. I still rarely meet anyone, male or female, with that name. I overcame most perceptions by being an above average athlete in almost every sport I participated and can still school some of you millennial’s on the court, if I care enough to do so. (Funny how that always levels the playing field in our culture.)
I’m articulate, well-read, a very quick study at almost anything I focus on, a voracious learner, always willing to change if it’s the right thing to do and I never quit; still to a fault at times. I’ve come to accept that it’s a part of who I am.
My message to you is this. If you feel like an outlier, you probably are. Don’t fight it for too long. I’d have embraced it years ago if I’d have had the awareness.
I actually look for opportunities to be the outlier; not to disrupt intentionally (which isn’t my nature) but to challenge what I call the RC Factor (resistance to change) that keeps people and organizations from realizing their true capacity, their ability to lead and simply to create better.
Truth Be Told, all hail the ‘outlier’ in each and every one of us!