Challenging Conventional Wisdom

Copyright 2006 Daniel Sitter

Challenging conventional wisdom…what a concept! How few of us are willing to risk moving out of our comfort zone, learning to push conventional wisdom aside and grow. Why is it called conventional wisdom anyway? Why; Perhaps, because the very idea of it is associated with being safe and secure. Is that where we really want to be?

In today’s fast-changing and ever-shrinking world, new ideas, methods, and processes are being conceived, installed and operated at breakneck speed like never before. There is little room for conventional wisdom anymore, unless of course you are content with living in a bubble, with little direction or growth intentions. I like the old adage, “if you are not growing, you are dying.” Marketing and sales, as well as many other fields, require constant movement and adjustment.

The term “conventional wisdom” reminds me the old excuse “because that’s the way we have always done it.” This overly-used phrase is nothing more than a crude crutch for countless persons. Did you know that someone, in totally-blind ignorance, once had the audacity to say publicly that “all the inventions that will ever be invented had already been invented? There is no need for the patent office anymore.” As ridiculous as that notion appears today, that particular statement was made at the turn of the 20th century. If anything, we can only dare to imagine the discoveries and advancements that will be made in the next 5 years, let alone the next century!

Certainly, there are instances where conventional wisdom is quite appropriate, such as well-accepted norms of behavior, testing procedures and religious practices. I challenge however, the notion of accepting conventional wisdom at the expense of personal and intellectual growth. That is where the element of fear enters in and restricts so many people. Generally, most fear at this level is simply imagined in our minds-eye, thus creating barriers to our progress, self-development and career advances. This is the point where we need to train ourselves to be conscious of our actual circumstances and work through this fear to find the rewards awaiting us. Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in his first inaugural address “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He truly understood people and human nature. FDR would never settle for accepting conventional wisdom, and neither should you.

In the world of selling your own ideas, products and services, we must be continuously growing beyond our comfort zone, challenging conventional wisdom along the way. Our ability to persuade others to our point of view as well as our ability to match our goods and services to the needs and wants of others, depends upon living and working in a dynamic environment, not the static world of conventional wisdom.