The other day, I interviewed Colby Jubenville, Principal at Red Herring Inc. and a professor of Human Performance at MTSU for a story about marketing.
He showed up in a red and black Zebra-striped blazer.
He then handed me a copy of his newest endeavor: a book entitled Zebras and Cheetahs: Look Different and Stay Agile to Survive the Business Jungle. And by golly, he’s not just writing the prescription—he’s popping the pills. He walked with confidence, not shrouded in zebra print, but completely enlivened by it. Everywhere he walked, people’s eyes followed: and inevitably, their mouths puckered and slid to the side in a approving grin. One onlooker even said to me, “tell that guy that I love his jacket.“
It got me thinking. What’s my Zebra-striped blazer?
What am I doing to look different as a writer? Do I already look different? Do I even want to look different?
To me, wearing a zebra-striped blazer would be absolutely terrifying. For one, I don’t look good in red. But aside from that, I’d be afraid of the stares. Fearful of eyeballs. And most certainly, I’d be concerned that “I love her jacket,” might turn to, “who does she think she is?”
From a young age, we’re conditioned not to call attention to ourselves. I specifically remember a time after a JV football game where I was cheering on the sidelines, and afterward, my mother came to me and said, “Be careful it doesn’t turn into the Claire Carlton show.” Yikes. I didn’t want to be that person that calls for the spotlight. I still don’t.
But Colby wasn’t wearing a zebra-striped blazer because he’s a narcissist. He was wearing that jacket because he’s an entrepreneur. A great one. He’s wearing the jacket because he’s not afraid to be different.
So why am I?
I need to come to terms with the fact that there’s difference between hogging the stage and standing with confidence in your own skin—whether it’s zebra-striped or not. After all, we all ARE different. Made by a creative God, full of individual talents, quirks, idiosyncrasies and gifts. We’re all unique—we all have something to offer the world that’s wholly different from the person standing next to us.
And the fact that we are each special shouldn’t hinder us from serving others—it should spur us on to serving others all the more. Even God-in-flesh, the most special, most renowned of all—didn’t use his peer to garner the spotlight or acclaim. He stood confident in his human skin to bring glory to God and to serve others.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45.
So once we accept, even rejoice in the fact that we are different—how can we wear it with confidence?
What if you actually stepped forward and became the leader you know you are inside?
What if you actually put pen to paper and wrote the song God put in your heart?
What if you actually took out the canvas or the casserole dish or the computer and created what you were made to create…
Who would you serve? Who would benefit because you are different?
So don’t go buy a zebra-striped blazer. That one’s taken. Who has God called you to be? And more importantly, how might he use that to serve the poor, the oppressed, the needy… in other words… all of us?
After all, if we all wore zebra-striped blazers, it wouldn’t really be all that special anymore, would it?