Be proud of being the black sheep. If everyone agrees with you, maybe you’re not being bold enough.

For a while, even as someone who never worked a real job, I was afraid to put forward an opinion that I knew was likely to be challenged. I had heard all the proverbs and stories about how those who change the world for good are often criticized, but it was hard to walk the walk. I was afraid of being put down!

I was also afraid of causing offense. The irony is that I thought I was being polite in going with the flow—not conforming to it myself, necessarily, but not really challenging it in others.

But I was wrong. When you stifle your true self, you do a disservice to the world, especially the part of it that’s within your influence. Just look at someone who lets their true self shine. Their part of the world is better off because of their courage.

There’s a difference between causing offense for the sake of it and standing your ground for something you believe in. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais: “Just because someone is offended doesn’t mean they’re right.”

Be polite, be respectful, but stand your ground. Be proud of your beliefs. @chrisguillebeau (Click to Tweet!)

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of PursuitThe $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. 
Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.

Image courtesy of gratisography.