Lesson 12: Independence and All Odds Against It

It starts very early on. You need to blend in and be like everyone else. The school teaches how to memorize, accept what others have said, and take things at face value without too many questions asked. What happened to unique ideas, creativity, innovation, and tools for independent thinkers?

Following others is easy. It does not require a great effort. You just take something that is already in place and recycle it. That’s how the majority of population is behaving and working. They are a large xerox machine that is streamlined and tuned in to become ever more efficient. Still, cloning has its pitfalls. For starters, it’s not possible to create something unique and different just by copying others. There needs to be something that is unique and personal—something that is contributing and creating differently, introducing novelty to the existing state of affairs.

Anything new is a threat to the status quo. It requires that someone needs to change something in the current way of doing things. This can be the mindset (i.e. see things differently or accept the change), existing business model, social status, political power etc. The resistance to change is one of the biggest hurdles to anyone who does not feel comfortable in the sheep mode of simply following the pack. They start to feel the pressure of the society, community, friends, colleagues and peers, and pretty much anyone who cares about the cause or is directly threatened about the new prospects.

Independent thinkers are considered as troublemakers in any society. They make people feel uncomfortable and uneasy due to their nature of exposing and questioning issues that may need some reconsideration or changing. No one likes to change his or her beliefs and old habits. Creating something new means destroying the old. Horses must go if cars are going to be used as transportation means. Someone is always losing their job when the demand changes but at the same time new opportunities are always opening up. The society discourages the brave who dares to introduce better and more productive ways of living and working. It is not the novelty per se but the giving up and letting go of the old that creates the friction and inertia. This is the doomed role of the innovator who often happens to be the entrepreneur at the same time.

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