“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity.”
— Thomas J Watson, Jr.
“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination;
do not become the slave of your model.”
— Vincent Van Gogh
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
— John F Kennedy
It’s been a very long time, but I watched the movie, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest a few nights ago. Great movie, and it is a particularly great movie to view conformity and nonconformity in all its glory. You can also see that nonconformists are definitely in the minority. Yet, in this movie, how could anyone really want to be a conformist? How gray and boring. It also reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s quote: “Not all those who wander are lost.”
It all comes down to choices. What you choose to do or choose to refuse to do.
I think about neighborhoods and many in the last 25 years or so have committee’s to insure conformity called Homeowner’s Associations. That is their main purpose–to insure conformity. House paint colors must be in a very narrow range in color and shade, and the list goes on and on. No thank you.
Dealer 20 groups. These are stated to help improve operations and increase profitability. I’ve seen so many come back from these meetings with the goal of conformity–to do what everyone else is doing. Bland. Tasteless. Milktoast.
Franchises. They are the very definition of conformity. We love them and seek them out when we travel–even when there are so many unique, perhaps even 5-star rated independent businesses in each locale. We prefer predictability. We know that a Big Mac will taste just like a Big Mac if it is in Boston, or San Diego. It is also going to cost within pennies of the same amount. All so predictable and conforming.
Think about this quote by Mignon McLaughlin in The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960: “Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers.” Interesting.
It’s no wonder that the companies in In Search of Excellence, and Tom Peter’s new book, just out this week, The Little Big Things – 163 Ways To Pursue Excellence, are so few relative to the business world. They excel and they do it by being UNIQUE! And interesting, profitable, forward thinking, trend setting and niche making.
I cringe when I hear this phrase: that’s the way we’ve always done it. . . or that’s just the way we do things around here. . .
Maybe it’s about time that changed!
“Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge”
Spread Some Joy Today–Every once in a while, it’s just plain fun and good to change things up for no good reason. Try getting out of bed on the other side tomorrow, walking backward into the kitchen, skipping around the block. Do something (or several somethings) strangely today. Just for the heck of it. It will be good fun.