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As we’ve mentioned before, many of the ideas for our blog come from conversations with clients. Or, sometimes, from family or friends. Wherever we go the same topic just keeps coming up, so we take the hint (!) and the rest, as they say, is history. 
This week’s inspiration comes from a surprising source, conversations with those at opposite ends of the age range. Children and those of more senior years (!). 
What’s particularly interesting is that it’s a subject we tend to think of as affecting children, rather than “grown ups”. However the conversations we’ve had recently show this isn’t the case at all. 
So what are we talking about? 
Peer pressure – the pressure to conform. 
At one end comes a little gentle teasing about having the “wrong” clothes, haircut or friends. Or, perhaps, being interested – or good at – the “wrong” things. 
At the other extreme bullying or exclusion from the group. 
And this applies just as much to adults as to children. Although, with adults, the pressure tends to be more subtle but equally damaging. 
What is ironic is that this comes against the background of decades of government initiatives and legislation designed to raise the profile of – and protect – those who are deemed to be “different”. At a time when we would like to think our society is more tolerant and accepting, the reverse more often seems to be the case. 
Added to this, those in favour of conformity tend to overlook the – to them – uncomfortable truth that society can’t function without a diverse range of people and skills. 
Can you imagine a world solely made up of accountants? Or civil servants. Or teachers. It just wouldn’t work. Without diversity, the world would grind to a halt very quickly. 
For us, the true gift of being human – and living on this wonderful world of ours – is that we are each unique. There has never been anyone quite like us. Or will be again. 
We each have our own individual set of skills; some of which we’re aware of, many we’re not. Our own unique personality. All shaped by our upbringing and experiences. 
As someone so eloquently put it “The recipe for each child is different.” 
Instead of celebrating this glorious – and colourful – diversity, peer pressure is in danger of reducing us to a monochrome world of sameness, where only a narrow range or skills are valued. And, in the process, not only do individuals miss out but society as a whole. 
Change – and true happiness – can never come from those anchored in conformity, who see the world in the same way as everyone else. 
It always comes from those who are “different” who see things that no one else does. Come up with new ideas. Use their skills in a different way. 
So why not celebrate this glorious diversity instead? 
Encourage each person – whatever their age or circumstances – to develop the skills they were born with. Whatever they are. 
It doesn’t matter what the skill is, there will always be someone who would benefit from it. And in the process it’ll help them make the most of everything they have, helping not only themselves but everyone around them. 
Let everyone shine in their own uniqueness, rather than trying to force them to be “like everyone else”. 
Wouldn’t this make for a much more diverse, interesting and, more importantly, happy world? 
So, today, why not just be yourself and develop the skills that make you unique? Or, even better, encourage someone else to do so, whatever their age. 
As always the choice is yours. 
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