Over the years, I’ve learned how to filter the noise and find signal among it. It has nothing to do with realtime or social media, I use the phrase for the lack of a better alternative. There are so many people who claim to be innovative, it seems like innovation has become a cliché itself.
When I was a kid, I had many questions. One of them was, why do we need to learn about history and know what people did years ago. I was told, and I believed because everyone said it with conviction, that history repeats itself and when it does we must be prepared to handle it. And that knowing ways in which someone dealt with a particular situation might help us deal with a similar one if it so happens that we face the exact same situation.
What I’ve learned, and I know it because no one taught it to me, is that great people, no matter what you call them – genii, innovators, world-changers, leaders, revolutionaries, etc., don’t take lessons from conventional wisdom.
That’s an awfully long sentence and perhaps should not even be here but its my journal so I don’t care. Allow me to explain what I mean though.
Every once in a while, there comes this person who changes everything. The impact left after everything has been changed is so lasting that for years people try to change it further using the same techniques demonstrated by this revolutionary. A person who does not care about what people have established before him but tries to look ahead, far ahead, and establish something for the future of generations to come is an innovator.
In business schools, they teach you how to think outside the box. There are a million how-tos on that subject as well if you go check out. So what gives you an edge over someone else who is also trying to think outside the box? Well, if everyone is thinking ouside the box, we need someone to think inside the box! And I’m not having fun with pun. If everyone just follows what has already worked for someone else, it is not an innovation. If everyone tries to be different, no one gets to be. And here’s my favorite, from the movie The Incredibles,
If everyone is special, then no one is!
P.S. Thank you very much (you know who you are) for adding this recurrent entry in my calendar months ago. Every Monday, I was reminded of it and today just seemed like the right time to write about it.