My entire life I’ve not been a morning person.
Not in the “I prefer to get up a little later” vein.
I’m a “I physically hate mornings” kind of person.
My mind gets sharp and running around 9 pm and works great up until 3 am if I let it go (college was a fun place to learn about my alertness cycles).
According to many leadership and business experts, this is a crushing problem for me. You see, according to these experts, I need to get up early in the morning, plan my day, have a quiet prayer/meditation time, get breakfast and be ready to go to work and execute to be successful.
After much research and personal experimenting I respond to these experts: Says Who?
With a quick Google search I can come up with pro’s and con’s to being both an early bird and a night owl. I’m sure I could start a passionate flame war on either or both sides of the issue.
And I’d be missing the point entirely…
What’s the point you ask? We need to question the expectations that are part of our normal life. If the answer to “Says Who?” is a nebulous answer like: “people” or “because that’s how we do it” then there’s a real possibility that the expectation is challengeable.
I add the usual disclaimer for the smart ass who wants to break the law, do things that are morally or ethically wrong, and just be a pain: Don’t be stupid. Be smart and use your intelligence to think things through and free your expectations.
If we always do what the bulk of people expect of us then we will get absolutely middle of the line, normal results. By default we’re following the herd and meeting the expectations of the majority.
But innovation doesn’t happen in the majority. It’s the outliers, those who are far from the middle, on the fringes, that make the difference. Precisely because they don’t follow expectations, they are free to innovate and come up with great new ideas. Innovators question the rules. Not to be a rebel, but because many times the rules are holding back changes that need to happen.
I know that you’ve all run into this at your jobs. There are rules that are in place that make no sense, or serve no purpose, but carry over from year to year. What happened if you challenged expectations?
Change would happen! Innovation could happen! Expectations could be exceeded!
I’m living example of what happens when you both follow the herd blindly and when you decide to change and question the rules.
- My following the herd example is a painful one: I’m badly overweight. I bought into the fast food, processed and pre-packaged norm of America, and after years of a quick bite to eat over lunch and sometimes dinner, it really shows. Who says that eating cheap, fatty, fried, salty foods is good for me? Why the heck am I doing that to myself? It’s time to innovate my eating habits…starting with questioning the expectations of what kind of food is really healthy.
- My questioning the rules example is much more positive: I don’t sleep when everyone else does. I sleep when I’m tired and this means that I typically sleep between 1:30 and 7:00 a.m. I plan my day to begin at 10:30 pm each night. I have a day job, so when it’s done at 5 pm I come home and might take a nap to clear the psychic cobwebs. I have dinner, spend a few hours with my wife and dog, and then I “get up” and do crazy productive work once the rest of the world sleeps. I get more done in those hours than I could following a “traditional” sleep schedule. It works for me. It might not work for you, and that brings us back full circle.
Society, majority, rules, etc. continues to cajole: You have to [insert rule here].
Our response should be: Says Who?
Find out what works to bring your creative and productive passions to life and make it happen. If it’s not normal, that’s ok, normal hasn’t been working all that great lately anyway.
Where are some areas that you could grow your innovation by asking: Says Who?