Why Conventional Wisdom is not always wise

Go to school. Get a job. Put in your time, gaining experience and seniority as you go. That was the conventional wisdom for generations. These days, younger employees have also shown a willingness to climb the ladder by changing ladders when new opportunities arise.

But what if there was another way? What if I told you that this manner of navigating the workplace (while comfortable and commonplace) is not always the wisest way to realise one’s maximum potential?

Along with some of my personal story, I’m going to explain to you why “conventional wisdom” is not always wise.

By its very definition

Conventional wisdom, in short, is a theory or belief that is generally acknowledged or accepted as being true. For instance, conventional wisdom says that, despite people’s belief thousands of years ago, the earth is in fact round, not flat. On an abstract and circumstantial level, conventional wisdom also states that saving and investing money pays off bigger dividends in the long run.

The truth is, just because something is generally accepted as true, it does not mean it applies to everybody. Unfortunately, life does not have a fool-proof path to happiness, no matter how you define that (loving relationships, a good paying job, for instance).

‘Outside-the-box’ thinking breeds success

Like I said, conventional living is fine so long as it makes you happy, but it definitely can confine one’s ability to manifest into their best self. When I decided to take a leap of faith and start my company, I left the stability of a steady pay check and a consistent nine to five job where my salary, more or less, was a hallmark of comfort and success. Now, my personal prosperity, along with the livelihood of my employees, relies entirely on my willpower, initiative and ability to come up with timely solutions to every problem that comes our way. This is on top of coming up with a product that people find an actual need for and constantly redesigning and developing it. This type of pressure is intense, no doubt. It can even make some people crumble. But, surprisingly, some people flourish under stress.

When failure is no longer an option, you come up with outside the box solutions to problems you used to pass off to the manager above you. Every success and failure is truly your own. Although successes are great, failures are the most opportune moments for learning valuable lessons. Like Michael Jordan said “I have failed over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.”

My outside-the-box idea was to branch off and start a company whose dreams and aspirations were in complete and total alignment with my own.

Breaking the rules is beneficial… when done right

Image credit: Getty images

For anyone trying to use this to rationalise their bad intentions, this is not a blanket statement! The fact is that many industry rules are meant to be broken. If some of our generation’s thought leaders, like Steve Jobs, for instance, were to cater to the interests and rules of larger companies who would not work under his terms, technology would not be where it is today. Had the thought leaders of the world played by each and every societal rule and expectation, who knows where we would stand as far as basic human advancement is concerned.

When we started Uriji Jami, Jean Clauteaux (Jay) and I had one thing in mind: follow the path less travelled, and make our name that way. By applying many practices against conventional wisdom, we have seen drastic growth in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes, you’re better off countering conventional wisdom with your own intuition. Go with your gut.

Originally published at virgin.com on 13 June 2017.

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