We are all main characters in our lives- and there’s nothing going to change that. But often our beliefs are stomped on by another individual in the room- maybe it is that boy over there who talks with eloquence or that girl who exudes confidence in even her strides. This feeling gets built on and on, from our teenagerhood to adulthood, from the time we step out of schools and get into the real world, leaving us with a question that is often stuck at the back of our minds, wishing to be answered- “should I stand-out or rather fit-in?”.
Quite unsurprisingly, the answer is: it depends. You would wish to take a spotlight when it comes to being praised on your achievements, but you would rather hide under your blanket if someone made you the center of attention only to make you feel the worst. You would most obviously wish to stand out in the former scenario or fit-in in the latter perspective, much like the rest of us would.

Keeping personal matters aside, this issue extends to even our professional lives. As Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Amir Goldberg says best, “No one wants to be perceived as average or replaceable, especially in tech companies that value innovation, diversity, and creativity.” He says, “If you’re the kind of person who stands out culturally — you wear sweater vests and bowties to the office — then to succeed you will need to fit into your organization structurally, by being part of a tight-knit group of colleagues. And if you stand out structurally — you aren’t a member of any one clique at work but have friends across departments — then you better fit in culturally (so ditch the bowties).”
Professor Goldberg’s words can best be inferred that in our professional lives (which mainly refers to work life but is not limited to that only and can be extended to school/ college life), you would not wish to be perceived as an average employee in the company whose void could be filled by anyone, so in a way you would want to stand out. However, you would also wish to fit into the company (especially big companies with a larger number of employees) in the sense that you’re able to identify and relate with the rest and be able to work in and as a team. This results in a conflicting necessity which pressurizes employees to fit into a company and also stand out in your own ways simultaneously.

Fitting in and sticking out are obviously vital for job success, but the lesson, according to Goldberg, is that if you blend in structurally and culturally — especially in tech organizations that value creativity and innovation — you will be perceived as boring and uninteresting. Simultaneously, if you dress and talk differently from your classmates but aren’t a member of any one group, you’ll be viewed as strange and possibly, a miss fit.
It’s important to strike a balance between the two. “Either maintain your place as part of a tight-knit group but stand out by behaving a little weirdly or be the smooth networker who knows what’s going on across the organization but also knows how to blend in culturally,” says Goldberg. “You want to distinguish yourself from the pack without making anyone in the pack uncomfortable.” This may be optimally difficult for most individuals, but it is all that necessary to find the common ground for the same. A key for success in the making.