Ozan Varol Transcript

Dating back thousands of years, conformity is wired into us genetically. Back then, conformity was essential to survival—if you didn’t fit in, you were likely killed.

The stakes are as high today, but many people still conform and feel they stand out and be their true selves. But former rocket scientist Ozan Varol says there’s power in showing up as our true selves. His new book, “Awaken Your Genius: Escape Conformity, Ignite Creativity, and Become Extraordinary,” aims to help people stop living their lives on autopilot and awaken their genius and true selves.

A key aspect of escaping conformity is understanding your identity. Most people tend to wrap themselves around their identity, saying they’re a doctor or a lawyer, a Democrat or a Republican. Ozan says that when your beliefs are intertwined with your identity, it’s hard to change your mind. Getting people to understand something can be challenging if it clashes with their identity. People will usually stick to their identities and ignore conflicting information.

To truly understand your identity, Ozan recommends diversifying it. No person is one singular thing. You may be a leader, an accountant, or a teacher, but you can also be a spouse, a parent, a runner, a community member, etc. Creating a larger identity gives you more legs to stand on to grow, adapt, and change.

No matter your identity, Ozan says having an internal sense of self-worth is crucial. Your identity matters, but it doesn’t define you. Too often, people fall into the trap of clinging to a singular identity and basing their worth and moods on how people view their identity.

Ozan says to define your accomplishments by decisions you can control, not things you can’t. Life and careers bring so many variables outside of your control. Things might not always go your way, and not because of any of your choices. Instead, focus on what you can control: show up as yourself. You are in control of how you show up and how you contribute.

There will always be variables outside your control or people judging you against external metrics. As you take a stand to step out of conformity and be your true self, take control of how you show up and own what you can control

I love what Ozan said: “But if you’re defining whether or not you had a good day or a bad day by reference to metrics outside of your control, then your good days and bad days are always going to be fickle.” You won’t have any control over them because other people decide them.

As we break out of conformity, we can discover our true identities and embrace creativity. That requires being true to yourself and showing up as only you can. The leaders and employees who understand what’s in their control will stand out and see incredible opportunities.

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