The willingness to think differently

A real key to life is to have the willingness to think differently than most people. I work at a college where most faculty teach the way they were taught, and students go to school because that’s what everyone else does. Remember way back when Steve Jobs and Apple told us to think differently?

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.
― Apple Inc.

We need to begin to teach how to learn to be proud of our ability to test traditional beliefs, and stop worrying what others may think when we stand out. Leo Babauta  suggests,  if we are to embrace change we need to learn to explore new ground, to challenge ideas, to express our individual voice rather than blending in.

When you are told that this is the way to do things, take a second look. Is this really the best way? Are there other possibilities? If no one has thought of them, can you?

Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, looked at  a study of over 5,000 entrepreneurs and executives, and found almost anyone who consistently makes the effort to think different, will think different.  They also discovered,

Researchers at Harvard Medical School opened our eyes to one compelling answer. Sixty to eighty percent of adults find the task of thinking different uncomfortable and some even find it exhausting.

So, what do we do?  Dyer and Gregersen offer a few simple suggestions to help you think differently.

  1. Just do It. Nike’s slogan is not a bad starting place when it comes to creative thinking.
  2. Shake it up. When associations don’t come naturally, try forcing them to surface unnaturally — by shaking things up randomly. For example, try the Idea Generator app.
  3. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that if adults practice associational thinking long enough, the task no longer exhausts but energizes them. Like most skill-based activities, if we slog away at it and practice over and over again, the task becomes not life taking but life giving. And that’s when the most creative ideas pop out.
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