And they said, “Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top reaches into the sky, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we are scattered over the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – Buckminster Fuller
Most times, we continue to engage in the same activity and expect a different outcome. Wisdom requires you know when to change tack. These men reported in Genesis 11 possessed the expertise to gather raw materials, bake bricks, conceptualise and draw the plan for the city, and finally engineer the structure. They were willing to deviate from the norm. They risked building vertically rather than horizontally, which was unusual in their days. The vision of the outcome was clear, even though it was the first of its kind.
Seven things to consider as you contemplate deviating from the norm:
- Believe something few others believe
You don’t have to know something no one else knows, you simply need to raise the bar on your belief. Self-doubt and double mindedness have a chance of terminating your dreams before pessimists have a chance to. Remember, most people do not see what you have been privileged to perceive. Therefore, be careful in relying on their feedback, which often may not be constructive.
- Be willing to ignore the usual
A concept in psychology called “Habituation” is defined as a decrease in response to a stimulus after repeated presentations. For example, a new fragrance in your environment, such as a new perfume, may initially draw your attention or even become off-putting. Over time, as you become familiar to this smell, you pay less attention to the stimulus and your response to the fragrance diminishes.
Habituate to what is usual. In contrast, be mindful of things you see as different. Look out for what may be exceptional in things you normally would not pay attention to. Set aside a moment occasionally and allow your mind to overlook the normal.
- Be ready to abandon the status quo
Most people want things to change in their life, but they don’t want to change. They forget that they are the ‘change’ they so much crave for. Denzel Washington once remarked, “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” It is only human to approach pleasure and avoid pain. However, your comfort can also become the enemy of your advancement in life. Remember, no pain, no gain. Therefore, consider this: “What pain do I need to endure in the service of doing things differently?”
- Seek out appropriate tools/leverage
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” This statement underscores the importance of using appropriate tried and tested tool for activities you have decided to tackle. Use of wrong tools may exacerbate your frustration and disappointment. Consider networking and partnering with people who can spur you on to be the best the version of yourself.
- Challenge yourself to engage in a new activity. Do something you have always been afraid of doing
The challenge that infuriates you the most is the problem you have been assigned to solve. Everything in life is a solution to a problem, you inclusive! There is a problem you have been designed to be a solution to or bring a solution to. All you need is to develop your passion, stay committed and persevere through the odds.
- Stretch your thinking and perception
Challenge your mind. Look at things from a different perspective. An activity I often conduct with people when trying to get them to see things from a different perspective is to invite them to “wear the shoes” of the other person. Depending on where we are located, the perspective of an object in a room can look different to two people. Allow your mind to come to terms with the fact that your current frame of reference is one of so many possibilities. Who, 50 years ago, would have thought most children of the world today will be able to carry their computer folded and popped in a bag or even their pocket?
- Live courageously
Don’t allow fear to hold you back from trying. The only person who has not failed in life is the one who has not tried. Understand that failure is not the opposite of success; it is part of the process of achieving success. Nelson Mandela remarked “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers their fear.” You don’t need to fight, avoid, or deny the dread. It is okay to own your fear. But more importantly, it is also okay to do it [fill in the gap] afraid!
What would you do if you knew failure is simply overrated?