Conformity or Courage


The great Earl Nightingale, speaking to us in The Strangest Secret, tells us the opposite of courage is not cowardice. It’s conformity. That is, people acting like everyone else without knowing why other than everyone else is doing it or it’s what they think they are supposed to do, and they are still doing it without knowing where they are going or why.

The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity. ~ Rollo May

I recently visited The Muhammed Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and its Greenfield Village, both in Dearborn, Michigan. Both places are testimonies of courage to fight for your beliefs, convictions, dreams, and imagining the world as a better place. It takes courage.

I went to these places not just to visit as a tourist but as a student to take a very deep dive into the thinking used by Muhammed Ali, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, George Washington Carver, The Wright Brothers, and others. What I heard, thought, and felt while there was not their intelligence or knowledge or education (most had little). Rather, I felt how courageous they were to accomplish what they accomplished, doing what they felt called to do, and doing what they could do, where they were with what they had. I know they discovered along the way that they had way more than they thought they had simply by being resolute and staying connected to themselves and to a way of acting and thinking.

This resolute conviction and thinking allowed them to overcome the risks to life and limb and the multitude of distractions and dissuasions, especially from the distractions and dissuasions from people that said they could not do it, should not do it, and that they should just quit and give up on such nonsense and conform to the common herd. Thankfully, they did not give up nor did they conform.

The most prominent example of courage that I saw and felt was the bus seat that Rosa Parks, a black woman, refused to give up in 1956 because a white man told her to move. I sat in that very seat on that very bus.

There are so many examples of courageous people that kept going despite whatever condition or circumstance they found themselves. The Wright Brothers kept going crash after crash until they flew.  Conformity disguised as practicality would tell most people to stop. They didn’t.

Edison kept going after thousands of failures in getting a light bulb to stay on. Common sense would dictate he should stop after a couple of tries, right?

Rosa Parks could have moved even though three others did give up their seat and moved to the back of the bus. Rosa Parks knew that she would face public humiliation, arrest, and possible threats to herself and her family. But she was tired of the status quo of giving in, and simply refused to give up her seat.


Reminds me of this:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the one who do. ~ Rob Siltanen

So, here’s what I discovered…..We are all called. It is our duty to be one of the crazy ones in this thing called life. No matter what condition or circumstance you may find yourself in, including levels of success you may already have experienced yet still feel a longing and discontent in your life, in your business, in your job, in your relationships, in your health, in your time, in your treasure, for something even better.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

I love this verse because it tells we are not to conform to the rest of the world, of what others think we should or should not do, can or cannot do, and to listen to your inner voice, that still small voice calling you to your mission and purpose in this life by transforming yourself and changing your mind.

What would you really love?

It is not too late and it is not too early. No matter what, just like the people mentioned here, there is always something you can do where you are with what you have and you have way more than you think you have regardless of the economy, regardless of the stock market, regardless of who won or lost an election, regardless of how much is in your bank account, regardless of the benefits at your job, and regardless of anything in our physical world.

Listen to that still, small voice and imagine your life’s purpose and when you think you have found your purpose, the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God, you can, as stated above, test it with these five questions:

1.  Does this dream give me life?
2. Does this dream align with my core values?
3. Does this dream require me to grow?
4. Will I need help from a Higher Power?
5. Is there good in this dream for others?

If you get a resounding YES to all five questions then the only difference between these people here and you, is that these people are celebrated publicly for what they practiced privately for years. You CAN do the same by changing your mind to a mindset of courage and growth.

It is your choice. Courage or conformity? Are you ready to stop living the life you “have” to live, and start living the life you WANT to live, a life of your own design rather than the default life of the conforming world?

Your first step is to book a short strategy session with me, during which we’ll explore your dreams, see what thinking is keeping you in conformity, and work to turning those dreams into reality.

To get started, just send me an email at or call me at 806-679-9326.

About the author:

David Norris is a leadership development and personal growth coach for entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, and men and women who seek to up-level themselves, their businesses, their lives, and the lives of the people around them. David has dedicated his life to empowering and teaching people to be better leaders and better human beings.  David is co-author of the international best-selling book The Change 7- Insights Into Self-Empowerment, and he can be contacted by email at, or through his website at

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