Sunday, May 04, 2008

Thinking out loud :: reliance on conventional wisdom is damning

There is a somewhat healthy tendency in every discipline to defer to the knowledge of elders. Starting with the original “apprenticeship” structures of the 19th century to the traditional corporate hierarchies that permeate our life today, societies are built on collective wisdom from the past. Major conferences around the world gather industry “experts” to share their wisdom. We painstakingly listen to our elders’ projections as if they were coming from an oracle.

However, for the small portion of society that is tasked with innovation and pushing the edge, a reliance on conventional wisdom is damning. We must seek advice with a dose of skepticism, and we must always consider the merits of developing new platforms rather than just derivatives.
Behance Magazine

I came across this golden nugget of advice while working through the 100+ feeds I read on an almost daily basis (Google Reader is a wonderful invention) and it challenged me.

In all I seek to do... am I relying on conventional wisdom? and if so, whose?

Behance goes on to offer 3 tips for avoiding over reliance on conventional wisdom and experience:
  1. Don’t judge someone based on age... but on skill.
  2. Question the correlation between past accomplishments and present knowledge.
  3. Beware of conventions... anything can be improved.
I'm not suggesting that we should repeat the mistakes of the past. What I am suggesting, however, is that life is like the stock market and shares :: previous performance does not predict future performance. Just because it worked... doesn't mean it will continue to work.
"...being like your grandfather, is not wearing HIS hat, but going out and buying a new one, like he did..."
An old friend once said this (or words to that effect) > conventional wisdom would suggest that if the hat worked for my grandfather... then I should get one like his... BUT... I need to get my own hat. I need to get one that works for me... that suits me... that's my style.

Prior to reading the article... I watched the wonderful Evan Almighty... the comedy where an ordinary Hummer-driving Congressman called Evan Baxter is called by God to build an ark... like a modern-day Noah. Conventional wisdom... the advice of his peers and his elders... was pretty much... pack it in... leave it alone... walk away.

As Evan shows... sometimes you have to do your own thing. When it comes to this life... we need to stop following convention... experience... guidance. We need to stop relying on abstracts like security (physical and financial)... and prosperity... and start following God. That's the true meaning of faith... but hey... don't take my word for it.

My thanks to Behance Magazine for their continued inspiration... upon which I will build upon :-)

2 comments:

julie said...

i am reading 'the active life' by parker j palmer - he talks a lot about not listening to our skill/expertise as conventional wisdom either - rather we need to listen to what our life gifts are to guide us into becoming - that is different from what we have been conventionally trained to do and are competent at - it is more about our character and how we are drawn towards the new and the innovative aspects of how our gifts might be expressed in this generation and culture, rather than in the time of our forbears - i have my great great grandmother's boldness - but it looks different for me in the context of my life and this culture, than it did for her

headphonaught said...

Thanks for your comment and for building upon the thought. As always I greatly appreciate your input.

Conventional wisdom can be at odds with the Spirit and His direction and gifting.

I know a gifted spiritual leader - Col. John Napier - who has a bad stutter. Conventional wisdom would have given him a desk job or one where he could relate to people on a one-to-one basis... but the Spirit had grander plans... and he is a gifted speaker who has been a conduit for God's blessing to many people including me.

Its about faith and yes... it is about the gifts God gives us.

Thank you again.

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