As most of you know, I was at BlogWorld in Las Vegas two weeks ago. And if you’ve been following along, you also know that most of my learning happened OUTSIDE of the conference rooms (See “5 Remarkability Lessons I Learned from Alex“).
All day yesterday and this morning, one particular conversation I had keeps replaying in my mind over and over again. Because it deeply disturbed me.
I was standing in a group of pretty well-known, talented, successful people (they were EVERYWHERE) and someone asked me how Escaping Mediocrity came to be. And I shared about the day I woke up and realized that every one’s stuff, ie sales pages, newsletters, squeeze pages, offers, tweets, etc. looked alike and decided that there had to be a better way to do this online thing. (If you are interested, you can read my whole post about it here).
And one of the well-known, talented and successful people looked at me and said, “But if it works, why change it?”
I was speechless.
Now again, please hear me on this. I am all about learning from successful people and not reinventing the wheel. But cookie-cutter imitation? Maintain the status quo? REALLY???
So I started thinking about “prevailing wisdom” and examples of how it was DEAD WRONG. Here are a few I came up with:
1) The earth is the center of the universe.
2) The earth is flat and if you sail to the end of it, you will fall off the edge and into a pit of monsters.
3) There is no cure for polio.
4) There will never be a widespread need for personal computers.
5) No one will pay a premium price to have letters and documents overnighted.
You get the idea, and I am sure you can think of more. (In fact – if you do, please share them in the comments.)
My point is that if we settle for “prevailing wisdom” and maintain the status quo, what does it get us? Nothing. Actually, it’s worse than nothing. It gets us locked into mindless autopilot, doing the same “safe” things over and over again. We become unwilling to push ourselves and take risks. Why? Because we are AFRAID.
What if it doesn’t work? What if we look foolish? What if no one likes it? What if people laugh at us? What if we fail?
In the interest of transparency, let me just say that I have a) put myself on autopilot and b) let the prospect of the above questions keep me there for a very long time. So I get how powerful that gravity is.
But I am simply unwilling and, truthfully, unable to to accept prevailing wisdom and maintain the status quo just because it keeps me safe.
Does that make me an anomaly? Actually, I don’t think it does. My closest friends and colleagues along with you – the members of my tribe – show me how to do risky, scary things every single day. And for that I thank you.
But I am curious. Do you think that accepting prevailing wisdom without question and imitating (and by imitating I mean the cookie-cutter variety) the big-shots of your industry is the best path to success?
Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!