Jimmie Hendrix didn’t electrify the nation’s youth and the counter-culture movement by following conventions. In fact he was known for playing dissonant cords. The turn of the 20th century French composer Debussy was known for using a chromatic scale, which rocked the conventions of hundreds of years of composition.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak didn’t have a road map to follow when they developed the first Apple computer, as previously computing was mostly accomplished at the size of a main frame. They designed according to what they predicted people would want. If they had stuck with the conventions of designing products that people knew they wanted, Apple Inc. would never have been born.
Multi-award winning author Harlan Ellison who has written more than 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, essays and more, is somewhat known for breaking with the conventions of punctuation and sentence structure, and yet aside from his cranky demeanor he is one of the most respected writers in the country.
Don’t get me wrong I love conventions. Conventions give us predictability, cooperation, and safety. They give us a common language so that we can understand each other. They give us a road map to follow, and in many respects they can simplify our lives.
The challenge with conventions is that over time they start to become too comfortable, and when they become comfortable we resist changing them. That’s when our innovation falters, the brand stagnates, and the energy for what we do begins to erode.
Fortunately, there is a solution, and it’s very simple.
Are you ready for this?
All we need to do is practice being uncomfortable so that we can get somewhat used to living and working in a state of being subtly uncomfortable.
I think Larry Page said it best:
It gets easier over time, and begins to become exciting and even exhilarating.
It begins, very simply, with an intention to face into the challenge—with a willingness to embrace uncomfortability.