Saturday, December 18, 2010

Think Different - Living Life Differently

It worries me that I am getting less innovative as each day passes. And that somehow, my creative juices will one day stop flowing and I will become just like everyone else - an employed person who works from 9 to 6 and just goes through the motions of life.

No way! That wasn't what I signed up for. I have big dreams for my life when I was little. And big goals too. And I shall not let anyone dampen my spirts or kill my dreams. Yet, there are moments in life when I feel discourage and feel like just moving on with the flow of life. You know, stable job, have kids, watch them grow up, get promoted, etc, etc. Basically, it means walking the path which millions have walked before me. And why not, I have a comfortable path or life laid up ahead of me. All I have to do is play by the rules and I am more or less guaranteed a cushy job that pays relatively well enough.

So why risk it all?

Because I believe that each individual's greatest fear is that he/she is immeasurably more powerful than we dare imagine. And we are afraid that people we know will look at us with doubting eyes and wonder: "Is this the XYZ that I really know?" We are bounded and held back by the chains that imprison our minds. We refuse to move ahead because others expect us to stay where we are in life.

After all, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

How does this link to innovation?

Well...innovation is all about creativity and doing things differently. That includes living life differently. And I believe that Singaporeans are generally an innovative bunch. We have managed to solve many problems even when faced against great odds.

But can we really think differently to create a global company that is as distinctive as Apple or Microsoft or Google or Facebook? Why does the United States churn out such billion dollar companies with seemingly brilliant ideas at such pace and with such ease?

Why is our Singapore economy so still reliant on exports for survival? Why are we reliant on MNCs to set up their bases here? Where are the thinkers of this generation? Where are our Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?

Is the reason we fail to innovate caused by the fact that we live too similar lives to all those around us? In fact, I am almost one step closer to making the sweeping statement that "having a university degree is almost a sure way to kill innovation." (But of course, I know that is not true and many graduates are truly innovative people but perhaps not in the billion dollar kind of way. That's why I said I am still one step away. ) But getting a degree makes one afraid to take on the path least travelled. Afterall, why risk a good job and pay when it is all laid out in front of you. Why be different?

Think left not right & Change the World at the same time.

Think out of the box. That is what they taught us in school. But why did we even assume that there is a box in the first place? The statement " Think out of the box" highlights the fact that there is a box and somehow we need to think out of it. That goes against our logical mindset. We are too used to giving the earth is at the centre of the universe kind of answers that we simply dismiss the possibility of our CRAZY ideas. You don't want to look crazy in class..and definitely not in front of your boss. Our "outside the box ideas" are actually still very much within a larger invisible box. In fact, the sure way to kill creativity is to ask someone to "think outside the box" or "think creatively". You see, the crazy answers are often so CRAZY and out of this world that noone will even root or vote for that idea. Not even your boss. Cos he/she doesn't want to look stupid infront of their bosses. (okay, I admit, some ideas are really too crazy and probably lie close to the realms of pure stupidity)

And so the phenomenon is that crazy people will hang around with crazy people and make billions of dollars while changing the world at the same time. Their ideas tend to be so revolutionary that they end up changing not only their immediate surroundings but the entire world. What problems are there in the world? What crazy solutions are out there?

How Am I Different from 5 Million People in Singapore?

Yes, Singapore is getting crowded. So what makes you different from all the rest of the people on this tiny island? Of course, we all are uniquely different in terms of our experiences, skills, education, personality, etc.

The question then is not about being different but differentiating oneself from the rest of the population. One thing is for sure: If you are doing the same stuff as everyone else (study hard, get a job, work, go home, sleep) , you can't expect a different outcome.

The craziest thing in this world is to do things in a similar manner and expect a completely different outcome. How is that for lunacy? (Sadly, many of us still fall into that trap)


  1. HI FF,
    The first person who said that the earth is round was considered as a mad man at that time. The world needs more such people. The world can progress till today is because there were quite a number of such mad men in the past. Cheers, hope you can be the first in something.
    Anyway,Singaporeans are supposed to be among the top in education in the world. But until today Singapore has not produced a nobel price winner in anythings.
    If that's your aim, hope you can succeed.
    On the other hand, someone has to be the road sweeper, the bus driver, etc.
    They may not be less happy.
    Different folks, different strokes.

  2. Yo have to decide to live your own life. Living at the base, apex or somehwere in between of the Life Pyramid is totally different.

    Do you think all horses want to win the race?


Popular Posts