Choosing conformity is tantamount to wasting your life in the middle of a crowd after having rendered yourself unable to communicate anything of substance. The alternatives, however, are tough, since most of us have been brought up, trained, and drilled to view approval as a requisite of survival.
The problem is that proper human life is hardly possible without frequent dissident behaviour. Whatever rules you are following, how can you be sure that there are no exceptions? Even if you are willing to entrust your life to the wisdom of a leader, how do you make sure that he or she is the right one? The answer is simple: you just can't.
No matter how much a person knows, the ideas in his head represent only a minimal part of the total knowledge available in any market at any given time. Remember also that the total amount of available knowledge increases by the hour. In addition, for every product or service, there are hundreds of different geographical markets in various languages.
Individual courage to deviate from the norm is the essence of entrepreneurship. Knowledge and opportunity are spread without apparent order in any market. We should also not forget a hidden factor that adds complexity to this equation: each of us actually possesses much more knowledge than we are aware of.
In many cases, we are at first unable to name the reasons behind our conviction that we are choosing the right path. Then, after some reflection, we come up with amazing insights about why and what for.
Entrepreneurs are so used to thinking creatively that they are often puzzled when they encounter people who are psychologically immobilized. "Why don't you try again?" entrepreneurs tell us. "Why don't you cut your losses and start something else? Why on earth don't you quit playing any sport whose rules make it impossible for you to win?"
The determining factor here is not intelligence. If we look around, we can observe self-defeating behaviour in all segments of the population. Paralysing conformity affects both the ignorant and the educated, the young and the experienced.
The key element in the solution is that, before you can move forward, you have to get unstuck. Before you can focus your vision, you have to open your eyes. Before you can use your resources productively, you have to set your energies free. Free from what?
- From tasks, chores, and activities that you don't like and that you are doing out of an obscure respect for tradition.
- From people who don't appreciate you, ignore you, or waste your time, with whom you put up out of excessive benevolence.
- From supposed challenges, goals, and objectives that are not really your own, that you have picked up somewhere along the way and that are preventing you from doing what you know you should be doing.
Take heart, I know how difficult it is to get out of the rut. Pick up a sheet of paper and make a list of people to ditch, things to dump, and races that you are no longer willing to run. As you begin to eliminate all that doesn't pay, you will be amazed how resourceful you become in pursuing the few things that count.
[Image by masterplaan under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]