Embrace Your Uniqueness and Learn Your Way

by Race Bannon on May 31, 2009

The pressure to conform is all around us. Our friends, families, employers, schools, religions, governments and organizations all take part in this pressure. Sometimes their participation isn’t conscious or intentional, but it’s pressure nonetheless and succumbing to that pressure is a guaranteed pathway to unhappiness. Remember this, always, you are unique! There is no one on earth exactly like you. As Dr. Seuss has aptly put it in one of my favorite quotes, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Our individual uniqueness shouldn’t be surprising. As a close friend of mine used to point out, all one has to do is look to nature to understand diversity and uniqueness. Look at snowflakes. Look at flowers. Look at trees. Look at mountains. Look at people’s faces. They are all 100% unique.

If these externals are unique, why would we think that our insides, our minds and hearts and needs, are the same. They’re not. They possess the same uniqueness as everything else in the world. And when it comes to learning and education, our brains turn out to be entirely unique as well. John Medina points out in his fantastic book Brain Rules that learning itself results in actual physical changes to the brain that are unique to each individual. Even identical twins that have identical experiences end up with brains wired differently from each other. Our brains, and thus how we learn and what we choose to focus our learning efforts on, are all unique.

Medina makes a strong case for brain individuality. Each of our brains is wired differently. He argues that what each of us does in our lives and what we learn physically changes our brains – literally rewiring our brains so that they function unlike any other. Additionally, Medina explains that the various regions of the brain develop at different rates in each of us. And no two brains store similar information in the same way or in the same place in the brain.

There’s no such thing as an average person. An average person does not exist. Each of us is unique and that uniqueness should be celebrated and fostered. When average human characteristics are discussed, what are being discussed are statistical measures that can’t really be applied to an individual. How can you average character, bodies, psychology, education, values, ethics, family, social situation, lifestyle and other measures of what make up a person? You can’t.

Anytime we try to quantify or measure an individual’s makeup by any set of standards, they are destined to fall short. In spite of the pressure for us to all try to be the same, we just aren’t. And this is what makes life worth living. How boring if we truly all were the same. There would be nothing new to learn, explore or experience.

Even traditional psychotherapeutic strategies are increasingly embracing the concept of individual uniqueness. Transpersonal psychology, for example, attempts to embrace this more comprehensive view of human nature.

We must embrace our uniqueness. And this includes understanding that what we choose to learn and how we best learn are unique to us. To acknowledge any less is to deny who you really are and the true nature of your self. You are the only person on the planet with the qualities you possess. It is only by fully embracing those qualities that you are able to be truly happy and truly well educated.

I like a concept that Bob Webb (http://www.motivation-tools.com/) developed that he calls a learning personality that supports our individual uniqueness. Much the way each individual on Earth has a unique social personality, we each also have a unique learning personality comprised of natural talent, our passions and interests, the opportunities we’re presented (or create ourselves), social environment, personal character and ethical center, inspiration and motivation, and a brain that processes information unlike any other.

Webb points out that when a person’s learning personality is a good fit for their social environment, that person is considered intelligent. When one’s learning personality it not a good fit for their environment, they are considered of low intelligence. Often it’s not that a person possesses less intelligence, but their learning personality simply isn’t matching up with the social environment in which they find themselves.

Traditional schooling is often the mismatch for many people. Lots of smart, clever and motivated people have their academic and learning results reduced to the lowest common denominator because they don’t learn in the same way the teacher is teaching. But traditional schools aren’t the only places where these mismatches can occur. They occur as we find ourselves in all sorts of environments throughout our lives.

The key is to discover your unique learning personality and actively seek out environments that promote learning in ways you find compelling and successful. If you know how you learn best, and you know the environment in which your style of learning works best, you’ll learn more easily and be happier with the results.

So what does this all mean in terms of your self education? Be you! Don’t try to be who someone else thinks you should be. It is only by fully accepting your uniqueness, honoring it, embracing it, that you can attain maximum happiness and contentment. There is no other way. You simply can’t live your life on someone else’s terms and expect to be happy. It won’t happen. Choose what you want to learn and how you want to learn it and you’ll be a lot happier and more successful.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 GarykPatton June 16, 2009 at 5:52 am

How soon will you update your blog? I’m interested in reading some more information on this issue.

2 Race Bannon June 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I try to add a new posting to this blog every 2-3 days.

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