A Non-Conformist’s Guide to Success in a Conformist World

I found this unexpectedly comforting; I myself am an example of point #10.

1. Don’t be an absolutist non-conformist.  Conforming in small ways often gives you the opportunity to non-conform in big ways.  Being deferential to your boss, for example, opens up a world of possibilities.

3. In modern societies, most demands for conformity are based on empty threats.  But not all.  So pay close attention to societal sanctions for others’ deviant behavior.  Let the impulsive non-conformists be your guinea pigs.

6. Fortunately, the content of modern education is neither linear nor cumulative.  You can safely forget most of what you didn’t feel like learning right after the final exam. 

8. Educational success hardly guarantees career success.  But educational credentials open a lot of doors – including most of the doors to non-conformist-friendly careers in academia, science, and yes, bureaucracies.

10. Social intelligence can be improved.  For non-conformists, the marginal benefit of doing so is especially big.

12. When faced with demands for conformity, silently ask, "What will happen to me if I refuse?"  Train yourself to ponder subtle and indirect repercussions, but learn to dismiss most such ponderings as paranoia.  Modern societies are huge, anonymous, and forgetful.

There are more at the link. Via A Non-Conformist's Guide to Success in a Conformist World, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty.

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