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Challenge your conventional ways

Good Thinking | February 1, 2017 | 2 min read

Fight through the clutter. Zig when others zag. Be bold. Be original. Take risks. Differentiate. Are you prepared to deliver this kind of thinking?

What makes you so sure? I’m questioning you because I’m questioning myself. I did an inventory on how I challenge myself to grow professionally. All too often I settle for blogs, journals, web sites, videos, sometimes forums. Most times they all gnaw on the same topics. Tell me the last time you were stopped in your tracks by a “five steps to brand success” story.

If inspiration doesn’t come from reading or watching industry Pablum, where does it come from? I challenged myself for the answer. Our business is not for spectators, it’s only for those who are involved, alive and know how to make ideas come true. Here are some possible ways you can build those skills—no matter how many years you have in the business.

Improvise. Don’t just go to an improv show, enroll in an improv class. Learn how to think on your feet when you need an answer stat. Get comfortable in front of people. Mess up. It’s the best place to do so. Make mistakes and learn to recover. Your presentation skills will grow incrementally.

Be passionate about a cause. Get involved with a cause you believe is changing the world. Don’t just sit on the board and feel good about yourself. Work with the people the cause serves so you learn how to identify what’s required to change their lives. Be insightful. We recently had a person who volunteered at a women’s shelter. Her passion for serving is contagious. It’s rubbing off on all of us.

Be competitive. An intern said to me, “You should only hire people who thrive on competition.” To me, that’s intriguing. This doesn’t mean you have to run marathons, or compete in bridge tournaments. It does mean you have the mentality to battle back. If you lose a round, it only makes you more determined to succeed the next time. Learn from competitive situations. It could be your kids’ t-ball team so you learn together.

Be original. Even if you do all of the above, you still need to surround yourself with talented cohorts. Individuals who challenge themselves to see the conventional in unconventional ways. These are the industry’s original thinkers. They understand that every brand has its own DNA so only original thinking works. They require you to work up to their abilities. They scoff at shortcuts.

I realize this only scratches the surface of ways to challenge convention, but my mission is to get you to want to challenge it. The next time you’re about to read a cliché-riddled article on marketing, stop yourself. Instead get up and do something that takes you far from your routine. Defying convention feels good, doesn’t it?