You Don’t Need Permission to Defy Conventional Wisdom

Thomas Oppong
Aug 3, 2016 · 4 min read

“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

Conventional wisdom is a generally accepted theory or belief that applies to almost everything we do. There is nothing new under the sun. And there is always a way to do what you are thinking about. But you have a choice. A choice to disobey conventional to create a new rule. You have every right to try new ways to get to where you want to be in life.

Assume nothing. Question everything!

Never accept the proposition that just because a solution satisfies a problem, that it must be the only solution. ~Raymond E. Feist

Here is what happens when we break from conventional wisdom. People start to notice that you’re doing something different and think you’re crazy or even mad to make a choice like that. Serial innovators go through this all the time. Nobody gets them. But they do it anyway.

And you have to constantly defend your decision from people not gutsy enough to swim against the current — even though the evidence in front of them suggests they should give it a go. But after a while, the negative reactions die down. People will begin to observe and wait for the outcome of your “weird” choice.

Most of them want you to fail to prove that conventional wisdom is always right. A few will get curious and start asking the right questions at some point. But something else more powerful happens as you progress— It’s the realisation that conventional wisdom is not always right and can be challenged if you have something to prove.

“When the conventional wisdom of physics seemed to conflict with an elegant theory of his, Einstein was inclined to question that wisdom rather than his theory, often to have his stubbornness rewarded.” — Walter Isaacson

You don’t need permission to pick yourself!

You don’t need permission to be and embrace who you are. And you definitely don’t need to apologise for the path you choose to pursue your life’s work, especially if you strongly believe that the path you have chosen is the best shot at creating something meaningful to you. Nobody can make you go back to conventional wisdom. Our hearts crave connection to a meaningful calling. Choose to follow it.

If you are anxious to change the world, create your amazing work, make an impact, ship your product, or follow your curiosity, you have to be willing to go against the status quo.

When you decide to fully commit to your gut and turn a calling into your own beautiful contribution to the world, conventional widsom will stand in your way. If you have ever entertained the idea that you were born to do something significant, conventional wisom will be your enemy.

Obey your brain. Obey your gut.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” — Mark Twain

It takes courage to challenge the ideas and practices that make us successful. But in a world that moves and changes so fast, holding on to conventional wisdom is no more the best option.

No matter how noisy the world gets, no matter how busy you become, there would always be something inside you — a small voice that whispers in the quieter moments of life, taunting you with the shadow of the unlived life. If you listen hard enough, you can still hear it. When you decide to follow it, you will be fighting against conventional wisdom.

When you make a decision to go against what society expects of you, and trust your gut, you will be choosing an uncomfortable and even painful journey that will be worth your while. The burden will be so enormous that you will have three options every step of the way: give up, give in or give it all you’ve got. Choose the latter.

Going against the current is tough. When you start doing something different, you’re pointing out where other people are going wrong — so they may get angry and defend why they do what they do. But it pays to obey your gut if you have the grit to finish what you start.

So, starting now, listen to that little nagging bit of doubt in your head about some piece of conventional wisdom that you’ve always secretly questioned. Try the exact opposite and see what happens?

When was the last time you questioned the default or tried to improve it?

What could you do? Who could you be? Why are you waiting?

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Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder at AllTopStartups | Author | Creator of Thinking in Models and Kaizen Habits | Featured at Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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