The Problem With Conventional Wisdom

For today’s weekend inspiration, I’ve invited Steve Rice from Karmic Kappuccino over to share some thoughts with you.  No, not because his blog name is coffee related (although I think it’s pretty cool).  I’ve been subscribed to his blog for several months and it never fails to make me stop, think and challenge myself to grow.  Your turn!

The Problem With Conventional Wisdom Is…

…It Is Conventional!

“Conventional” wisdom is conventional for a reason. It means that a majority has accepted it as so and follows it blindly.
If you want to live an extraordinary life, you are going to have to think for yourself, do the unimagined and create your own definition of what is possible.

Conventional Wisdom Says:

Think Outside the Box – Ignore the box! Create your own, then blow the sides out and create something completely revolutionary.

Follow Your Passion – Don’t follow anything or anyone. Instead, live. The rest will take care of itself.

Time Is Money – Time isn’t money. Time isn’t even precious. Time is a construct. Your life is precious. Your experiences and your relationships give it meaning. Time is relative (thanks, Professor Einstein); your life endures.

Know Your Market and Your Target Demographic – Why not create a market? Craft a message that matters and draw your demographic to you.

Content Is King – Connection is king! Connect to someone—just one—and you will have done your job.

Blaze the Trail – Don’t blaze the trail or incite others to follow you in any endeavor. Inspire them to live better by living well yourself.

What Will You Do?

This question is the crux of the matter. It is definitely easier to follow convention. It is safe. It is tried and tested. You know what you are getting.

But a conventional life will never dazzle and amaze you. It will never exceed your expectations. If you want more, you must be more. That’s all.

It’s that simple… and that difficult.

Steve Rice is the editor at Karmic Kappuccino: A Daily Shot of Inspiration. He is also the author of the breakout book An Imperceptible Spark: Finding the Courage to Live a Life of Joy. You can follow him on Twitter (@stevenerice)

Image Credit: SVLuma/StockFresh

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  1. Steve’s got it right, Michelle.
    I am so glad that my contacts (and, before that, my glasses) were specially treated to find boxes purely invisible. It makes life so much more fun and exciting. How else would a teenager develop an artificial kidney? Or a sexagenarian piddling with new water systems, pharmaceuticals, and the like?
    Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. recently posted… Coming soon- to your mailbox (US Postal or eMail)My Profile

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Roy. I love your analogy of “specially treated” glasses/contacts. It really is the way we look at things that can revolutionize our lives and the lives of so many others.
      Steve Rice recently posted… Espresso Shot Quote: AristotleMy Profile

      1. And you’ll be sharing your eye doctor’s information with us, Roy? :) I’d like to swing by and place my order for those glasses/contacts!
        Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… You’ve Got to Do What You’re Afraid to DoMy Profile

        1. No problems, Michelle. You just have to understand the price.
          A lifetime of folks looking at you askew, as they adhere to the norms. But, if you can blaze a path- and be lucky to find adherents and followers- the price is worth it.
          (I got mine when I blew up my parent’s house at the tender age of 6. It was clear that my chemisty set- and its proprietor- were not going to fit into a plain jane box…
          Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted… RIP webOS. What is the takeaway?My Profile

  2. Michelle, at first I had to laugh, no offense Steve. Even though I laughed at the coffee pun, Steve’s words of wisdom did ring true.

    I loved the do not follow – I believe there is an old saying, do not walk in front of me, I may not follow, do not walk behind me, I may not lead.

    Let’s all walk side by side, for this builds strength.
    Ria recently posted… Candles For A Cause -9/11 Candle MemorialMy Profile

    1. Thanks Ria! I’m glad you laughed. Life is better when we laugh.

      I also love your insight about walking together. It is a wonderful way to do life! Thanks for stopping to share your thoughts. Happy Sunday to you!
      Steve Rice recently posted… Espresso Shot Quote: AristotleMy Profile

  3. Life a lot more fun and adventurous to live it unconventionally. It bores the H** out of me to follow the rules. Nice food for thought on a Sunday Steve. Thanks Michelle for sharing.
    Ikenna recently posted… Passion will not make your Blog a Business. Here is what will.My Profile

    1. I agree, Ikenna! It is more adventurous to live unconventionally. Glad you enjoyed the post, and so thankful for Michelle letting me fill in! :)
      Steve Rice recently posted… What If It’s All Bullsh*t?My Profile

  4. Hi Steve,

    Awesome breakdown here.

    Conventional thinking is fine for those seeking to live a conventional life. Think like the herd, live like the herd. This isn’t negative per se, but if you hope to break from the herd and get spectacular results you must think differently, unlike the herd.

    Making the break is uncomfortable, because many herd folks will make fun of you, criticize you, or project some negative energy your way, all because they lack the courage to do what you’re doing. Again, instead of agreeing with your different line of thinking they think along conventional, party lines. Which is exactly why you live the life of your dreams and they live the average, “I will sprint safely to the grave” life.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration Steve!

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted… How Hurricane Irene Teaches You a Keen Internet Marketing Campaign LessonMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Ryan. You are right. Breaking from the herd is a challenge. It’s not just the effort it takes to create momentum, but it’s also the fortitude it takes to withstand the pull of those who would like to keep us from changing our future.

      You’re also right that this is what makes the difference. That’s one of the points that I make in my book. The difference between a life well-lived and poorly lived is the moment of decision. That’s the moment that changes everything.
      Steve Rice recently posted… Espresso Shot Quote: AristotleMy Profile

      1. Like when you stop smoking!
        One moment you say ‘How am I ever to accomplish this?’
        and the next one you say ‘Why was I thinking it is so hard? It’s really… nothing!’

        It’s a Just-Do-It kind of thing…
        Helenee recently posted… The Best Travel Tip You’ll Ever Need updated Wed Jul 6 2011 1:20 pm CDTMy Profile

        1. Good point. I’ve never stopped smoking, so I can’t know how it is…but I can imagine once you get passed the physiological and psychological withdrawals, it’s a matter of making the decision…each day and each moment to do something else.
          Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  5. Totally agree! Conventional wisdom should be as a reference, always knowing that the real thing is going to be completely different.

    Great idea, Steven! Are you planning to prolong the list?
    Gustavo recently posted… Shape your life like Michelangelo.My Profile

    1. I may work on some additions to the list, Gustavo. The main point was to make people think…which it seems to have done. Maybe I’ll add more. If you have other ideas, let me know.
      Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  6. I hopped over to Karmic Kapuccino and, I have to say, I liked the layout of the site — and the mental caffeine shots too!

    Thanks for the suggestion, Michelle!
    Good morning, Steve!
    Helenee recently posted… The Best Travel Tip You’ll Ever Need updated Wed Jul 6 2011 1:20 pm CDTMy Profile

    1. Wow…glad you like it over there, Helenee. I hope you’ll stop in occasionally for a “shot!” :) So good to connect. Please feel free to add KK blog to your reader or sign up for e-mail updates. I usually post 2x/wk with motivational quotes in between and send them all out on Friday morning.

      Hope you have a wonderful week!
      Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  7. More than anything else life’s a lot of more fun and more adventurous to live it unconventionally. Thanks Michelle for sharing. I hope this could be helpful tool.
    elpidio recently posted… Why Money is the Root of All Evil?My Profile

    1. Elpidio…thanks for chiming in!

      You are so right that life is more fun and a great adventure when one challenges convention. It can be a helpful tool when we question the status quo. At least it’s never a dull moment! :)
      Steve Rice recently posted… What If It’s All Bullsh*t?My Profile

  8. Fantastic post, Steve. My motto for a long time now has been: Question everything. So often, we react from a place that we never even chose to be at. We never took the time to actually stop and consciously decide how we want to feel about something. We just adopt the belief of others, be it family, friends or society.

    But life becomes so much more fun and inspiring when we begin to live as ourselves, not some version of ourselves that we’ve constructed according to the arbitrary rules of others… Thanks for the reminder and validation. :)

    Melody recently posted… How To Take Your Relationship From Fizzle To SizzleMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Melody! Your motto is great! When we stop questioning…even our own beliefs, we are done!

      I love your insight about living as ourselves, and not as a “version” of ourselves according to the values of others!
      Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  9. Hi Steve,
    Unconventional living and thinking was the catalyst for me birthing my own business. Always enjoy your posts for pushing me to get even more unconventional,
    Have a great day,

    1. Thanks, Eleanor!

      Challenging convention seems to be a common thread with many entrepreneurs! So glad that you did launch out into pursuing your dreams.

      Always appreciate your insight and support! Thanks.
      Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  10. I love the idea of ignoring the box and creating your own. It’s easier to follow what everyone else has said for years, instead of following your instincts and creating your own path. Great post.
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted… Bare Essentials: Up Against the WallMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Lisa!

      You know, I face the same thing. Even “out of the box” thinking has become a tad conventional. It’s always much more work (but more rewarding too) to toss out the expectations and create things that have never been.
      Steve Rice recently posted… Espresso Shot Quote: AristotleMy Profile

  11. I love this concept… I live by this concept. Conventional methods and mindsets usually do bore me though. Therefore, I’m constantly looking for ways to tear that box into many unnoticeable pieces. :) Great post. I really enjoyed this read.
    Deeone recently posted… Another Rumor Bites the DustMy Profile

    1. Deeone

      Thanks for contributing your perspective and congrats on choosing the road “less-traveled”. It can be a challenge to face the disapproving opinions of others, but I’m sure you will find (as did the poet) that, in the end, it made “all the difference”!
      Steve Rice recently posted… Got Clarity?My Profile

  12. I love this Michelle!!!!! Let’s blow the top off the box of conventional wisdom, I am ready for a revolution : p
    Karla Campos recently posted… Why Should Business Owners Get Blogging?My Profile

    1. Thanks, Karla!

      So glad you enjoyed the post. You are already a game changer! keep up the great work.
      Steve Rice recently posted… Got Clarity?My Profile

  13. I like the idea of being a trailblazer, Steve! Keep up the great work. :)
    Love this post!
    Sherrie Koretke recently posted… How to Dream Like an AchieverMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Sherrie. We’re going places, girl!
      Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  14. whoever gave me the plan to follow for conventional wisdom wrote it in a language i can’t understand, so i’m being my unique self, choosing what i want to do, and how i want to do it, all by my little self. Life would be so boring if we knew the outcome of everything we do, which would be almost as bad if we all did exactly the same things.
    Larry Lewis recently posted… Blogging for my FutureMy Profile

    1. That’s so awesome, Larry! Kudos to you. Uniformity would be incredibly boring. You’re right.
      Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  15. Indeed Steve!

    Simple is not so simple yet it’s so rewarding.

    In my experience, when you have less mind clutter, you’re able to see and experience more.

    I understand that it’s great to follow the beat of your own ‘drum,’ but there’s also something to be said about the wisdom of groups.

    Observing human group dynamics or even animal behavior in groups can enlighten one’s view about passion, survival, and uniqueness.

    I’m currently reading and recommend James Surowiecki’s book, “The Wisdom of Crowds.”

    The information and the counter-intuitive arguments presented in that book addresses ways to “think outside the box” and helps you see that conventional thoughts can and often leads to extraordinary thoughts if you are open to it!

    Great message Steve!

    Miriam Buhr recently posted… 3 Basic Reasons You Are Forgotten After A ConferenceMy Profile

  16. The reward of keeping it simple is really the end game, isn’t it Miriam? I think you nailed it on the head here.

    I am really glad you brought up the point of the wisdom and dynamics in groups. I’ve often seen this at play when I facilitate relationship workshops. It was amazing how much I didn’t need to teach when the group got involved in teaching themselves.

    I think the point of the things that we take as “conventional” now is that they weren’t conventional at one time. (ie “think outside the box”), but they’ve become so over-used that it’s hard to connect to the wisdom that they once expressed.

    I think that’s where the value of your perspective comes in. When we can focus again on conventional wisdom and learn its lesson then we can chart our own course more effectively.
    Steve Rice recently posted… “You Always Know What To Do”My Profile

  17. Box? What box? I am almost 61 years old and I have never been able to figure out how a person thinks inside a box.

    Does it have windows? or even some holes cut into it? Why go in there in the first place? Some of my best thinking is in the shower. You can’t take a box into a shower, it melts. How big is the box? I don’t scrunch up as well as I used to. It would have to be a pretty big box with holes and a shower and it couldn’t melt.

    I do some more of my best thinking in bed at night after I turn out all the lights and think through stuff. Like what I did that day, what shows or books I exposed myself to. I talk to people who aren’t there about stuff I didn’t tell them during the day. Then the ideas start coming, some times I even turn on the light and write them down. Would my box have a bedroom, a light and a book for me to write in?

    Wait a minute. This sounds like my house. Am I thinking in a box when I think in my house? But I also think in the grocery store, my car, on a walk.

    But all this thinking is inside my head. Maybe that’s the box, but then how would I ever be able to think outside it?

    It’s a puzzlement.
    Ann Mullen recently posted… 2 Great Ways to Keep your Facebook Page FreshMy Profile

    1. Haha…Ann you had me laughing aloud at this one. Love your sense of humor.

      I really like your practice of rehearsing what has happened during the day and conversations you didn’t have, but now have in your mind. Sometimes that triggers the most amazing insights because we are able to suspend a bit of reality and connect to the child within us…that creative spark that is childlike.

      Thanks for your comment and wisdom.
      Steve Rice recently posted… What’s Holding You Back?My Profile

  18. Some very powerful calls-to-action here, Steven!

    I can write volumes about the pearls of wisdom here but I will start by saying that you’re right: create your own market by pursuing what you believe in most rather than a hot trend. Content may be king but that only helps you attract the right people.. From there, it is your job to make sure you engage others in meaningful, authentic ways.

    Attract & Engage

    I discuss similar things over at the blog so you’re welcome to share your thoughts there. Essentially, I feel we need to focus more on people, start being more real, and be so passionate that it will be contagious!

    (And that’s just the beginning of being remarkable and living a life of contentment and fulfillment!)
    Yomar Lopez recently posted… Support-A-Thon: What’s Your Digital Footprint Say About You?My Profile

    1. Thanks for sharing your insight, Yomar. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog. I like the “attract and engage” process. It makes a lot of sense.

      You are right, if we focus on our people and become enthusiastic, that passion is truly contagious and will cause things to go viral around us.

      Great wisdom. Thanks for your comment and sharing.
      Steve Rice recently posted… A Shift of PerspectiveMy Profile

  19. The scary part is what if these conventional wisdom are all lies?

    1. Kanna,

      That’s a great question. You’re on the right path if you’re aware enough to question the status quo like that.

      Even if they aren’t lies, maybe we should be asking if they are the beliefs we want to accept as “truth” for us. We have the power to choose…Always!
      Steve Rice recently posted… Got Clarity?My Profile

  20. What’s up, Michelle?
    We’ve been missing you…
    Helenee recently posted… The Best Travel Tip You’ll Ever Need updated Wed Jul 6 2011 1:20 pm CDTMy Profile

  21. “If you want to live an extraordinary life, you are going to have to think for yourself, do the unimagined and create your own definition of what is possible.”

    You said it all right there! Woot! SO true. Think outside the box and live outside the box. Stop being a sheep – and one will be surprised with what can happen!
    Brock Blohm recently posted… Sales Pitches Are A Thing Of The PastMy Profile

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Brock! I’m so glad that this quote resonated with you. Keep up the ‘renegade’ view of life and you’ll go far.
      Steve Rice recently posted… Got Clarity?My Profile

  22. […] been thinking about this question lately since I read a provocative post by Steve Rice called “The Problem with Conventional Wisdom”. In his article, Steve encourages you to think for yourself and avoid conventional wisdom if an […]

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