How to Question the Acceptance of popular Thinking
Popular thinking has often proved to be wrong and limiting. Questioning it isn’t necessarily hard, once you cultivate the habit of doing so. The difficulty is in getting started. Begin by doing the following things:
- Think before you follow
Many individuals follow others almost automatically. Sometimes they do so because they desire to take the path of least resistance. Other times they fear rejection. Or they believe there’s wisdom in doing what everyone else does. But it you want to succeed, you need to think about what’s best, not what’s popular.
- Unpopular thinking, even when resulting in success, is largely underrated, unrecognized, and misunderstood.
- Unpopular thinking contains the seeds of vision and opportunity.
- Unpopular thinking is required for all progress.
The next time you feel ready to conform to popular thinking on an issue, stop and think. You may not want to create change for its own sake, but you certainly don’t want to blindly follow just because you haven’t thought about what’s best.
- Appreciate Thinking Different from Your Own
One of the ways to embrace innovation and change is to learn to appreciate how to others think. To do that, you must continually expose yourself to people different from yourself.
Most our people in sale and middle management come from businesses with product and services different from ours. That constantly exposes is to new ways of thinking. We also discourage our people form active participation on formal business and trade associations and fraternities because their thinking is quite common. They don’t need to spend lots of time thinking the way everyone else in the industry does.
As you strive to challenge popular thinking, spend time people with different backgrounds, educations levels, professional experiences, personal interests, etc. you will think like the people with whom you spend the most time. If you spend time with people who think out of the box, you’re more likely to challenge popular thinking and break new ground.
- Continually Question Your Own Thinking
Let’ face it, any time we find a way of thinking that works, one of our greatest temptations is to go back to it repeatedly, even if it no longer works well. The greatest enemy to tomorrow’s success is sometimes today’s success. “Challenging the Process”. Describe how progress must be preceded by change, and he pointed out many of the dynamics involved in questioning popular thinking. In an organization, he said, we should remember that every tradition was originally a good idea — and perhaps even revolutionary. But every tradition may not be a good idea for the future.
In your organization, if you were involved in putting into place what currently exists, then it’s likely that you will resists change — even change for the better. That’s why it’s important to challenge your own thinking. If you’re too attached to your own thinking and how everything is done now, then nothing will change for the better.
- Try New Things in New Ways
When was the last time you did something for the first time? Do you avoid taking risks or trying new things? One of the best ways to get out of the rut of your own thinking is to innovate. You can so that in little, everyday ways: drive to work a different way from normal. Order an unfamiliar dish at your favorite restaurant. Ask a different colleague to help you with a familiar project. Take yourself off of autopilot/
Unpopular thinking asks questions and seeks options. For example, I have discovered and used nine routes within eight miles and twelve minutes from one another. Often I am amazed to see people sitting on the freeway when they could be moving forward on an alternative route. What is the problem? Too many people have not tried new things in new ways. It is true: most people are most satisfied with old problem than committed to finding new solutions.
How you go about doing new things in new things in new ways is not as important as making sure you do it. (Besides, if you try to do new things in the same way that everyone else does, are you really going against popular thinking?) get out there and do something different today.
- Get Used to Being Uncomfortable
When it comes right to it, popular thinking is comfortable. It’s like an old recliner adjusted to all the owner’s idiosyncrasies. The problem with most old recliners is that no one has looked at them lately. If so, they’d agree that it’s time to get a new one! If you want to reject popular thinking in order to embrace achievement, you’ll have to get used to being uncomfortable.
If you embrace unpopular thinking and make decisions based upon what works best and what is right rather than what is commonly accepted, know this: in your early years you won’t be as wrong as people think you are. And all your later years, you won’t be as right as people think you are. And all through the years, you will be better than you thought you could be.