It really amazes me how I sometimes come up with things to write about.
Sometimes it's just a word that triggers a thought.
Sometimes a few words trigger a thought.
Sometimes it's an entire sentence. Or a few sentences.
And sometimes it's a story that reminds me of something I've thought about a while ago. Just like this post right here.
Yesterday I read something I wrote a while ago. I read it because I'm currently working on a new book called rethinking entrepreneurship, which I'm going to publish in a few days. Maybe. Maybe not.
And reading this one piece triggered a thought. It reminded me of this one thing I thought a while ago and then forgot. So here's the thing..
What would happen if we'd stop defining things?
Sure, one thing that might happen is complete chaos. But let's stop that chaos thought for a moment.
For most of the things out there we have definitions. Definitions are like road maps. We follow them meticulously. They help us to put stuff into boxes. They help us to reach common ground quicker. It helps us to accelerate our thinking. It basically helps us to stop thinking. To stop using our brains.
Because having to use our brains is hard. Really hard. That's why we tend to skip using our brains. We prefer using the map instead. The definition.
What I mean with using our brains is this:
Whenever you encounter a problem you've never encountered before, whenever you don't have a map to solve a problem, that's when you'll have to really use your brain. That's when you'll have to make your brain sweat.
That's when you have to create that map yourself. When there's no map. When there's no definition that makes it easier for you. And creating that new map for that new problem you've never encountered before is probably the hardest thing out there.
I can still remember the time in high school when we were handed these math text problems. I hated them. And I never really tried solving them. It was too damn hard.
Well, it wasn't. I was just too lazy to make my brain sweat. To really use it. I didn't have a map. I had to create and find that map myself. But I was too lazy. So I never really solved any of these things. I never really tried. I wanted my brain to be fresh and clean. And shiny. And not sweaty..
And that's exactly what happens when we define things. Sort of. It's like giving us a map. It's like skipping the part where we have to make our brains sweat. It's like handing our brains a shortcut. That's the way it's supposed to be so that's the way we do things. That's how it's supposed to be. Alright, done.. Easy!
Sure, in a completely free world we wouldn't stick to the definition all the time. We would come up with new things. With new ideas of solving problems. We would come up with our own definitions. Our own maps. Well, I wouldn't. I'm too lazy. Maybe you would..
Unfortunately, most bosses and the people deciding about whether or not we get promoted, about whether or not we get fired are usually the folks who stick to the stuff that has worked in the past. They stick to the definition. To the map.
They've spent their entire careers making their brains sweat. Or they never made their brain sweat. Either way. Now that they are on top they don't want to make their brains sweat anymore or don't want to start making their brains sweat. Either way.
So what they'll tell you is to do things in a certain way. They hand you a map. With hundreds of definitions. If you're really lucky you might end up in a company that will hand out a code of conduct. What's even better are corporate guidelines.
Corporate guidelines are the best. They'll tell you exactly what to do. The only thing you have to do is to follow them and you'll never get in trouble ever again. You just follow the rules. No matter what. They are your map. They'll help you climb the ladder.
And then these companies celebrate their guidelines. Some corporations even have days where they celebrate their guidelines. Where people who followed the guidelines meticulously, the definitions, the map, will get a medal. Or a trophy. Or some other shiny object.
And then these exact same people who handed out these trophies just a few days ago wonder and complain about the low level of innovation inside their companies. About the low level of initiative. Of creativity among their employees.
They wonder why their employees always follow the plan and never come up with new ideas. With new ways of doing things. With some innovative stuff. They wonder why everybody is using the map they handed out just a few seconds ago..