We all want to create a business that’s successful, profitable, and steadfast. But no one I know wants to create a business that’s boring.
Yet, that’s what many people do. We trade creativity and leading edge for what’s safe and predictable. We know what works, we know the models that bring results that we can count on.
Real opportunity, however, doesn’t lie in doing what’s already been done. True potential is latent in the rugged terrain that few are willing to traverse. Real greatness comes from having the chutzpah to act in the face of enormous risk and unpredictability.
If we want to do great work, it’s essential that we allow ambiguity to flourish. But how do we uncover groundbreaking ideas?
At the risk of being highly paradoxical, but one predictable way is to live in the intersection of divergent pursuits.
For example, can you learn how to win venture capital by listening to the arguments of a courtroom lawyer?
Can a teacher’s care and devotion to her students inspire you to cultivate world-class customer service?
Is there something to learn from the persistence of a sloth in making slow, steady progress, rather than jumping at short-term opportunities?
There are endless opportunities to learn and grow that we don’t find by staying fenced into our respective niches. We can rekindle our foolishness by witnessing the imagination of a young girl, or improve our copywriting skills by reading outlandish science fiction.
So, how you can you start to diverge and deepen your well of inspiration?
A good way to start is by connecting with people you normally wouldn’t. If your crowd is fifth avenue bars, you might try spending time in some dives. If all your friends are hippies, try hanging out with more traditional folk..
Another great way to differentiate your intake is to change the media you consume. Experiment by watching five different documentaries, all on completely different subjects. Fill your bookshelves with a diversity of authors, writing styles, and genres. If you primarily read fiction, try reading more non-fiction, and vice versa.
If you listen to mostly ’80s hair bands, you could try going to a square dance. Yes, you read that right. A square dance. Sounds scary doesn’t it? (At least for me it does.)
Another way to completely change things up is to start a mastermind with a group of four or five people, all experts in a complete diversity of fields. A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar… and have a mastermind? Could happen. Who knows what type of interesting growth could come out of that.
I’ll be honest, I’m just as guilty of staying in the same patterns, and routines as everyone else. I tend to drive in the same predictable, efficient routes. I tend to go to the same comforting, familiar places to eat and socialize.
It’s not easy to do this. We are creatures of habit, afterall. We like things to be predictable, it gives us a sense of safety and security. But innovation rarely happens in a bubble wrapped world where all risk has been carefully extracted.
It’s true though, you can create a profitable movie, product or business by doing what’s tested, and what works.
But is that all you really want?
Have the courage to defy homogeneity and break the pattern, and who knows, something interesting might happen. It might be a breakthrough, or a new idea that really takes off. And if not, at least it will be entertaining.
What do you think? Is this a practice you incorporate in your business?
Since a young age, Jonathan Mead has had a hard time doing things he’s not passionate about. He left the corporate scene at age 23 to become self-employed doing what makes him come alive: helping others create work they love while getting paid to be who they are.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth.