Entrepreneurship and the Lost Art of Non-Conformity

Do you remember what it was like as a kid? You use to think anything was possible. But for many, that line of thought gradually fades for most as you move into adulthood. Consider this before proceeding, how many uses can you think of for a paperclip?

Paperclip

Most people would come up with 10-15. “Geniuses” in divergent thinking can think of hundreds.

In their book, Breakpoint and Beyond, George Land and Beth Jarman aimed to measure divergent thinking and asked 1,500 people a myriad of questions to measure this. The study was longitudinal, meaning they tested the same people from child to adulthood. Their findings were outstanding. At age five, 98% of the children scored at the highest level for divergent thinking. By age ten, that number had dropped to 50%, and even lower moving into adulthood.

Kindergartners scored at the “genius” level because they thought outside of the box. As we get older, our vision narrows and we become like everyone else. It doesn’t just happen. Our environment conditions this behavior, so anytime we even think about deviating from the norm, we’re criticized by our peers. Every once in a while we’ll have a true renegade entrepreneur that won’t be influenced by negative remarks, but more often than not, people will elect to blend in rather than stand out.

Infographic, Source: Tom Preston

I have a problem with the graphic above. Instead of blending in, creatives need an outlet where we could connect with like-minded individuals. Because that’s how we grow, our peers challenge us to be better. The best ideas usually aren’t 3AM instantaneous epiphanies, often times they’re an accumulation of hunches over a period of time, combined with the hunches of your peers, to create a much better and more feasible idea. That’s why I moved to Las Vegas.

You Are Who Your Friends Are

Are you surrounding yourself around the right people? I’d much rather be alone than with a life-draining, pessimist. Misery loves company, and if you’re with people who don’t share, or at the very least, supports your vision, than it’s time to find that outlet.

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

Lastly, I want to post another story about “Thinking Outside of the Box.” Posted by Ruchit Doshi on Quora:

Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The Moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain.

He said he would forgot the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter.
Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the
matter.

He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an
empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the
bag.

If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.
But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag.

He, then, asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.

Now imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have
done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have
told her?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.
The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking.

The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking.
Think of the consequences if she chooses.

The above logical answers.
What would you recommend to the girl to do?

Well, here is what she did:

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.
“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

MORAL OF THE STORY:Most complex problems do have a solution. It is only that we don’t
attempt to think.

Did you pick more than a handful of uses for a paperclip, or solve the girl’s dilemma? Let me know below!..

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