Why You Need to Step Out of Your Routine

If just stay on the same pathway every single day that's going to be a pretty predictable pathway of what you're going down now.

Most people follow a basic routine throughout the day and throughout the week.  They get up in the morning.  They have their workplace.  They interact with various people at work, and then of course, they have family and friends in the evenings and on weekends.  That's great, but you can actually enrich your life a whole lot more by thinking about all the kinds of people and all the kinds of ideas you can encounter outside of that routine.  If you just stay in that routine all the time you're probably limiting yourself to the range of possibilities in your future life.  


If you think about your future life as a range of pathways, as many, many different pathways in a forest, you will notice there are many, many trees around.  You can't really see the end of those pathways.  You don't know where each pathway will follow.  What you do know is that if just stay on the same pathway every single day that's going to be a pretty predictable pathway of what you're going down now.

The question is, what would happen if you discovered, in the thicket, some new pathways that maybe haven't been traveled too much before?  When it comes to our lives in terms of our physical space, there are many, many ways to actually increase the level of your serendipity, to actually influence the amount of serendipity you're going to encounter in your physical life. 

One example I call conference crashing.  This is something that everyone can do, everyone can try.  It's really, really fun, and it can lead to all kinds of crazy experiences.  For example, in your own city where you are living, or if you're traveling to another city for business or for pleasure, find out what conferences are happening that have nothing to do with your area of expertise, nothing to do with your work, nothing to do with your current hobbies and interests.  For example, you might find that there is a medical conference happening locally.  You might find that there is a scuba diving equipment conference happening in the hotel that you're staying at in Orlando to take your family to Disney World.  You might find some other crazy conference about photographic equipment or the future of film.  

Just the fact that it's not your area of expertise and not your particular job doesn't mean that you can't attend that particular conference.  What you want to do is go ahead and try to get into the conference.  Often, there is some kind of guess pass or ways to get in there.  Once you're there, what you find is that everyone is speaking some shamanistic language.  What I call the people who attend these conferences on a regular basis, these trade conferences, these industry conferences, I call them the shamans or the priests.  These are the folks who have been in that industry for 10, 20 years.  If it's the film industry, they talk about gross and net and points and all kinds of things.  If it's the mining industry, they talk about all kinds of things related to mining.  They have their own jargon, their own patois.  They have their own way of speaking about things.

Initially, for the first few hours certainly, and maybe even for the first day, it's going to appear like you've landed on Mars.  These are folks that appear human, yet, are speaking a completely different language, and are concerned about all kinds of things.  It's the very fact that you're an outsider that gives you an advantage.  The very fact that you're an outsider, you can see their problems in a new way.  I've come up with many business ideas for my startups by attending such conferences that are outside my realm all together because they're inside the thicket.  They can't really see the big, big forest in terms of how to maybe solve their problem in their industry with a solution from a different industry. 

You may be coming from the tech area.  You may be coming from the medical area.  Then you go into a different industry, and you can apply the solutions from your industry to their problems.  Just by crossing into these new boundaries in these new areas, you can often find great new ideas.  That's been a proven tactic for me.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

Videos
  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Keep reading Show less

Six disastrous encounters with the world’s most hostile uncontacted tribe

From questionable shipwrecks to outright attacks, they clearly don't want to be bothered.

Culture & Religion
  • Many have tried to contact the Sentinelese, to write about them, or otherwise.
  • But the inhabitants of the 23 square mile island in the Bay of Bengal don't want anything to do with the outside world.
  • Their numbers are unknown, but either 40 or 500 remain.
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less