In life, I often felt like a white crow, meaning an oddball or misfit.
For example, when I chose to major in chemistry at university, even though I didn’t like it much or understand it well in school.
Or when, as a student, I dashed off to Kamchatka to lay pipelines with a team of seasoned men.
Later, I felt a jolt during my MBA at the Chicago Business School when I realized I was the only advertising person among a sea of finance experts. I struggled to grasp the lecturer’s words.
Also, when I made a sudden shift from marketing to private capital management. Transitioning from a CEO and co-owner to a vice president role, essentially a salesman.
Everyone was a psychologist, educator or social worker at the US Focusing therapy conferences.I was the only businessman.
I felt out of place at 42, dancing House style among 20-year-old kids.
At 43, I stepped onto the tatami for the first time. Brazilian jiu-jitsu as an art fascinated me, but for the initial nine months, my ego was trampled by everyone.
A “white crow” is a newcomer who takes a giant leap into the unknown. He lacks mental models, cultural norms, and basic skills. So, he feels shame, embarrassment, helplessness, loneliness, despair, pain, and fear.
However, the White Crow has a maximum learning speed. The beginner’s mind swiftly navigates the learning curve, like descending Mount Blanc. Moreover, after becoming a black crow, like everyone else, such a person retains a valuable outsider’s perspective on the specific community and domain.
Looking back, I realize that the vast increase in knowledge more than compensated for all the discomfort I went through. While my ego struggled, my understanding of myself, others, and the world grew exponentially.
Now I’m almost used to being a crow that regularly changes its feathers.
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