Recently, during a presentation I was privileged to deliver to the Traverse City High School football team–both players and their fathers/mentors–I shared 7 steps to being the best version of yourself at 6:30am on a Friday morning in one of the classrooms. (Not the ideal time to capture the attention of teenage young men!)

Despite their grogginess, the first six steps were pretty well received–I’ve shared several of them in previous Motivational Moments posts. But when I announced the seventh and final step, “Commit to Being Weird,” their facial expressions said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

I get it. When I was in high school–and I’m sure it’s just as true today–being labeled as “weird” was either “fighting words” or one of the worst things that could ever happen to you. But as I shared with these student athletes, even though no one would seek out this label, for those truly committed to living a rich, purposeful, and productive life, (in other words, consistently presenting the best version of you), being considered “weird”–or at least “different”–might be the best compliment you could ever receive.

Why? Well, just look at what “normal” looks like in 21st century American culture.
• “Normal” in physical health is rampant obesity, poor fitness, and a 70% death rate from chronic, preventable disease.
• “Normal” in emotional health is an alarming increase in depression, addiction and suicide.
• “Normal” in relationships is a 50%+ divorce rate.
• “Normal” is still living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead — even though we live in one of the most prosperous places on earth.
• “Normal” people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. (In conversations at your next social gathering, notice how people wear “busyness” as a badge of honor.)

As I shared with these young men, if you are going to present the best version of yourself, then you will need to create a lifelong habit of pushing back against the rising tide of mediocrity, or what our world defines as “normal.”

Although it seems especially rampant in modern America, rejecting the cultural narrative of “normal” is not new to the 21st century. Over 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul, in his brilliant epistle to the first century Christian church in Rome, advised believers:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

Where do you find yourself conforming to what our culture considers “normal?” What is one step you could take today to renew your mind and more consistently create and display the best possible version of you? What would that mean to the quality of your life? Leave me a comment–I’d really like to get your thoughts.