So says this quote from famous fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, whose designs recently adorned Melbourne's International Art Gallery. The uniqueness of his designs certainly support this idea. To conform for him would have meant that we would not have been exposed to the variety and ever emerging designs he has created.
To conform for him may have stifled his creativity, may have blocked his ability to stay in the industry for a long time, to continue to push the boundaries. Not conforming can inspire. It can energise and it can lead to a never ending cutting edge.
When might conforming be essential though? When might it not be giving in but essential to success? When we are new to a career or adventure it might be important to conform for a while, to keep people on side, to get to know the business, understand the whole picture. Then perhaps we know what it would be like to conform and are ready not to conform.
There might be times when not conforming will get us in trouble or push the boundaries too far. Sometimes that might be ok and we just have to start again, but sometimes we might do irreversible damage and not be able to start again. For people under the constant scrutiny of the public gaze, for example, non-conforming can be destructive and damage reputations and brand. But too much conforming might also be damaging, stifling uniqueness and not setting themselves apart from the others.
Sometimes there are rules required to practise or maintain the business that need to be followed. Conforming to those rules are not giving in but rather enablers to continue to work. Finding ways to be creative and not conforming to traditional ways while conforming to what is necessary may well be the challenge.
So getting the balance right between conforming(to what must be conformed with) and not conforming (where ever possible) to bring a fresh approach might be the keys to not giving in but to stay creative in realistic ways. Putting our energy into those things that we don't need to conform with while not losing energy fighting the areas we have to conform with might help us. In that way we aren't giving in but nor are we fighting unwinnable battles.