9 Ways to Be Unremarkable


BadBokeh (Tongue firmly planted in cheek)

We all want to stand out from the crowd.  Even Oliver Wendell Holmes was once quoted as saying, “Nothing is more common than the wish to be remarkable.”

Still there are some common pitfalls to avoid when standing out.  They’re ones we’ve all been guilty of from time to time.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done a few of these in my past.

But if you’re looking to be just a little more memorable, you might just want to stay away from some of these.

1. Never question anything

Unremarkable people accept things at face value.  They don’t question conventional wisdom or ask questions about the world around them.

People who do remarkable things are generally curious people.  They want to know why things are the way they are.  They ask questions like: Is there a better way?  Why are people doing things like this?

By asking questions, you’re challenging the world around you.  You make your own path instead of taking the path laid out by everyone else.

2. Don’t travel anywhere

What better way is there to get yourself out of the familiar and routine than travel?  It breaks up how you see the world and shakes things up.

When you travel, you meet different people and cultures.  It shows you how other people live which can be radically different from your own life.  Before you know it, you’ve brought back a little piece of their lives into your own.

The most important part is that it gets you reflecting on your own life.  Getting an outside view of how people live can give you an objective view of how you live back home.

3. Never take any risks

The problem with never taking any risks is that you have to take a few risks in life to get anywhere.  Every great accomplishment starts off with the decision to take a chance.

Imagine what life would be like if you always stayed in your comfort zone and only did things that were safe.  All you’d do is stick with what’s familiar to you.  You’d never learn or grow as a person.

The people who always play it safe don’t strive to do much.  Only those who push themselves past their limits will do more.  And that means taking on a risk or two.

4. Think superficially

The world is a complex place.  The problem is that many people think the world is mostly black and white.  There isn’t much room for shades of gray.

Living as if the world is like that is too simplistic.  It’s too rigid.

Standing out in a crowd means realizing that there is more gray than black or white.  The gray area is where you spend most of your time thinking and discussing issues.

It doesn’t mean you won’t take a side on an issue you find important, but you do take the time to consider all sides before making your opinion known.

5. Let fear make decisions for you

When you make a decision simply because you’re too scared to do it, you’re letting fear make the decision for you.

Fear won’t let you do things outside of your comfort zone or ones that involve a little bit of risk.  Letting fear control your decision making will mean sticking to the familiar and the safe.  Those are rarely paths to greatness.

6. Only do or say things because you’re “supposed to”

Are you doing things because you want to do them or because you think you’re supposed to do them?

People do all kinds of things like go to college, get married or buy a house because that’s what they think they should do.

Realizing that you usually don’t have to do things you’re “supposed to do” is freeing.  It means living life on your own terms.

7. Avoid taking a stand on anything

If you want to be unremarkable, you should agree with whatever anyone else around you says.  Don’t offer your own opinion or disagree with the consensus.  Let majority opinion guide your own opinions.

Unremarkable people won’t rock the boat by saying something controversial.  Even if they do disagree, they’ll keep their opinions to themselves so people will like them.

8. Don’t try new things

Imagine waking up several months from now and doing the same exact things you’re doing today.  The things you’re doing haven’t changed and you haven’t tried anything new in all that time.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it?  Someone who is always doing the same things from month to month isn’t going to stand out much.  After all, there aren’t going to be any surprises.

9. Stop learning

If you want to be unremarkable, you should avoid new ideas and ways of thinking.  Learning changes people.  The source for a lot of personal growth comes from new information.

When you learn more, you connect information together.  This leads to newer and better ideas.  A lot of people who stand out from the crowd do it because they have made these connections.  They have great ideas and demand to be heard.
photo credit: wesbs

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  1. It is a great concept. It is really deferent to be remarkable person. I loved it. Thank you

  2. Those are definitely ways to live an average and unfulfilled life. For leaders we have to make sure to keep learning, being active, and taking risks. It’s what will cause us to move forward toward success and our dreams. Great post!

  3. This is such a fine post, Steve!!! Gets me stoked. I remember reading Gerry Spence’s Seven Steps to Person Freedom many years ago and getting all excited about this new phrase in my repertoire, “question everything”. It has made all the difference over the past decade or so.

    • Question everything has made a huge difference to me too. It’s interesting how many things I used to do, but never questioned why I did them. When you start asking questions, you evaluate your own life and what you do and don’t like.

  4. Steve, I love the reverse-ness of this list! I found it humorous even though the list is quite serious indeed. I have definitely been guilty of several – especially #5 and #6, but Question Everything has helped me get away from that. Why should I go if I don’t want to? What is the worst thing that can happen if I do/don’t _____? Why can’t I wear _____?

    Great reminders. Thanks so much!

  5. While there are some days when the high school survival instincts of “don’t make waves” seem so appealing, I don’t want to live a go to work, punch the clock, come home, turn on the tv, go to bed kind of life. There have been times in my life when I have fallen into that incredibly unsatisfying habit. Then the weight piles on and life slips away.

    Thanks for the reminder of things to watch out for that might get between us and actually living our lives.

    • There’s something about high school that seems to suppress the desire to make waves. Most of us don’t want to stand out then. But I say, you can’t be afraid to make waves. Sometimes you just need to stand out.

  6. Great post. Great title. I feel like about half of those described the old me. Glad to know that the unremarkable habits I had have been removed from my life. #2 makes me want to go somewhere awesome!

  7. The one about letting fear control you is HUGE. I’ve found if I am doing something that gets me a little out of my comfort zone, then I am on the RIGHT track. Love that you used the negative approach on this…made for a more interesting read!

    • I like when I’m outside of my comfort zone. That’s when I push myself and grow. It’s hard to grow on things when you’re doing things you’ve done before.

      But before I do things out of my comfort zone, I always get that ping of fear in the back of my head. It tells me to stop even when I realize there’s no danger ahead of me. If I listen to it, I miss out on that opportunity to push myself.

  8. Both 6 and 7 grind me… My life – my terms, not my family’s, friend’s or any other ‘authority’. Of course one should make a stand, but I do think there are times when keeping quiet is a good thing…

    For instance, if the only outcome is wasted energy because somebody has no interest in what you have to say, then I think it’s best to find someone who might actually listen.. Other than that – fight for your values!

    This post took a nice spin, Steve!

    • Yeah, it’s hard to talk to someone who doesn’t want to listen. I agree that you can waste a lot of energy that way. That’s why I choose my battles when it comes to arguing. Still, it’s better to stick by your convictions whenever possible instead of bending them simply to fit in. Of course, if you’re truly convinced, you shouldn’t stick with those convictions. There’s nothing wrong with changing your opinion when presented with new information.

  9. I don’t comment on websites but I been changing that lately. I figure if I start with little changes like this then it will help me make the big changes I want to make.

    I always question everything. I got that from Socrates because he question everything. Unless you know everything, you should always ask questions. The funny thing is when you start questioning things, you will be surprised by how people cannot answer a lot of them.

    I enjoy taking risks. I am actually going skydiving within the next month or two.

    I dont fit the mold of what I am suppose to be. Its been so amazing not being what I am expected to be. Feel so much more comfortable.

    I take a stand on everything I believe in, love learning and trying new things(most things)

    • I got into the habit of questioning everything from Socrates too. I read a little from him when I was in high school.

      It is surprising when you start questioning things how often people can’t answer them. I guess that shows how often people will do things without thinking about it.

      • Antaeus says:

        I asked some people not to long ago about curse words. I was like why are these words bad? Who exactly decided these words had to be curse words? No one could give me a good answer. I was like how can y’all say these words are bad and have no idea why they are?

        • I can see that happening. It’s funny how much we accept without questioning. There might be a good reason behind it, but many don’t take the time to find out why.

  10. All true. Great post and great reminders for the start of a new week and new month.

    • Even though I already knew all this stuff, its like everytime I read stuff I think I know, its like my mind opens up just a little more and understand something just a little more.

  11. Outstanding points Steve. And I love this quote . . .

    “If you want to be unremarkable, you should agree with whatever anyone else around you says.”

    So true, so true.

    Personally, I think a little disagreement is a good thing. Or even a lot. Each of us is a different person. It’s only natural that we should have our own opinions. And certainly, some of those opinions will be in disagreement.

    That’s how it should be.

    The problem is people are just too damn afraid to speak their mind. Like they’ll be outcast or something. It’s a shame. The more variety of thought out there, the more colorful the world becomes.


    • Great points. I’ve met people who change their opinions to suit the people around them. I wish people would just say what they think even if the opinion isn’t popular. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is being rigid in your opinion and never change it if better information comes along.

  12. Recently, I read what Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man) said….

    “Mediocrity is my biggest fear. I’m not afraid of total failure because I don’t think that will happen. I’m not afraid of success because that beats the hell out of failure. It’s being in the middle that scares me.”

    Let’s be remarkable on authentic terms!

    Thanks, Steve, for a great post!

    • That’s a great quote. There’s a truth to what he’s saying. I’ve always held the opinion that the worst thing is to be ignored. I’d rather fail memorably than be forgettably average.

      It’s like when I go to a movie and it’s ok, but I forget it after an hour. I’d rather the movie was terrible and sticks out in my memory.

  13. What a great list! And incredibly true… The main goal is to get out of your comfort zone and go explore the world. Don’t live your life through some other people’s experiences – create your own. Become someone you always wanted to be. Where there is a will, there is a way!

    • Definitely. I encourage exploration of the world. And that includes through travel, reading, ideas and experiences. It’s a big place out there so we try and see where it takes us.

  14. I think i have hit almost all of these at one point or another except the “stop learning”.

    I find it is easier to stand on my own and think on my own when i seperate myself from the crowd. I.e. it,s easy to get caught up on what everyone else is doing and then follow suit.

    I still have an issue with taking a stand on some things. Some people say this is good in that i am easy going but in reality it’s just me not relaying what I REALLY THINK.. :)

    • I won’t always express what I’m really thinking when I’m around other people too. For instance, if you’re around someone who will never change their opinion no matter what you say, it isn’t worth it. I try to listen to others when they disagree with me, but I don’t bother with those who won’t reciprocate.


  1. […] Want to stand out? First read what not to do here – 9 Ways to be unremarkable […]

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