Who doesn’t want to stand out from the crowd?
Everybody wants to be different, wants to be unique. I too. But I had no idea what makes someone different from others until I visited a Pearl Store.
Last evening, I hung out on a beach with my girlfriend. We were walking by the tiny stores on the way to beach. There’s a Pearl Store—the busiest of all. She rushed in to buy pearls. I wasn’t really interested, though.
I was standing in the store like one of those mannequins, staring at the crowd and the pearls on desk. They were two bowls on the desk, one of which had hundreds of pearls—round, white and equally glittering. The other bowl had just a dozen pearls—different in shapes, different in colors. I was fascinated by the second bowl, and so was everyone. How are they different? I asked the shopkeeper. He smiled as a reply.
I didn’t get his smile. The price of those different pearls was twice. And it had the attention it deserved.
Unique things attract, and isn’t that why we all want to be different? After all, the unquenchable thirst of everyone is to be recognized, is to be identified and appreciated. And that cannot happen when we are one among the crowd. It only happens when we stand out.
I just wanted to be like the pearls in second bowl. I asked the shopkeeper again, How are they different? He returned the same smile as if he’s hiding a secret.
He asked, “Are you buying them?”
I nodded, “No,” and stepped back as if-if I’m not buying them, I don’t have the right to know the secret.
The shopping is done. She bought two of those different pearls and we walked out. I held one of those and examined it. It wasn’t perfectly round and white. It had a shade of deep blue and orange blended on surface. It was much of an oval. Beautiful!
My curiosity was still up when I found the shopkeeper shutting his store. One last time, I asked him the same question. “How are they different? Are you hiding any secret?”
“I’ll tell you if only you don’t exchange the pearls back.”
“Why would I? They are stunningly beautiful. Tell me what did you do to the pearls in second bowl?”
“Well, it’s simple. I didn’t do anything with those. But I’ve polished the pearls in first bowl. The second bowl pearls were just crude and unpolished.”
“But this unique shape, unique colors?”
He laughed, “Haven’t you seen pearls before? That’s how you get them. We polish, coat, and cut them into same size and same color. Else, every pearl will be unique.”
He walked away laughing at my ignorance. What came startlingly was the fact that he didn’t do anything for those second bowl pearls to look beautiful. In fact, he damaged every unique pearl to make them look same.
Nothing made those pearls look different. They were different, in the first case. The efforts were made to look same.
Isn’t it the same story with all of us? We try to be different forgetting the fact that we are already different. All we have to do is to stop being same. You might have read or listened to people say Be yourself, because you are intrinsically different, just like an original pearl.
But we got things wrong. We thought it would take many efforts for us to be different. We were struggling to stand out. But that will never happen.
Efforts are needed for you to become similar, to fit in the crowd. When you stop putting those efforts and realize that you are already what you’re trying to be… that’s it.
The shopkeeper was smiling because my question was foolish. He didn’t do anything with pearls in second bowl, but it appears as if he’s done something to make them beautiful. Because we still believe we can achieve beauty. We can only achieve ugliness. What’s there first, is always beautiful.
He had no idea what impact did his little bowls of pearls had on me.
He unknowingly taught me:
The best way to be different is—not to be the same.
Have you read Monday Motive #2 What you can do?
No? Read on to unleash your potential.