I heard a friend of mine yesterday reference one of my favorite columnists/commentators, David Brooks, on an article I had missed. Brooks calls it "At the Edge of Inside," borrowing from Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk and writer. And then I came across this quote from Seth Godin, whom I quoted just last week. Rohr and then Brooks talk about three groups in any organization: the insiders, the outsiders, and the ones on the 'edge of inside'. Those at the core of the inside are those who are the loyal diehards -- and perhaps know nothing other than that organization. The outsiders have it easy in the sense they can lob bombs from the outside without much concern for the wellbeing of the insiders. Those on the edge of the inside know, love and understand both the insiders and outsiders. Their loyalty and commitment are sometimes questioned by the insiders, but the "edgers" are in a unique position to evaluate and critique the organization.
...or the culture. If you have been exposed to other cultures (or subcultures), you have hopefully learned something not only about the new culture, but also about your own (sub)culture. This gives you an objectivity that is badly needed if positive change is going to happen within the organization or culture. You are sometimes misunderstood or disregarded because you are not on the core inside. But this does not mean you have nothing to say or that what you have to say is not valid or important. Many times it's about how you say it.
Maybe you are an insider who is feeling the need to broaden your horizons a little. Let me encourage you: step outside. You'll only be the richer.
Do I find myself in this group? You betcha. How about you?