Go with the flow or go against the grain


Hi, George Swift here from Bigger Brighter Bolder.  

Do you go with the flow, or do you go against the grain?  

This is something I talk about in various different ways actually, but fundamentally, when everyone else is going in this direction, do I go opposite to them, do something different? 

See, if you do things differently - I talked about this recently - if you do things differently to other people, then you're going to get a different result to what most people get. What if most people are getting the result that you want? Well, then it might make sense to go with the herd, mightn’t it?  

So today, I'll just talk to you about actually having the wisdom to know when to go against the grain and the wisdom to know when to go with the flow.  

Sometimes it is really important to look at what other people are doing - look at what other people are implementing in business, look at how other people are behaving or acting or thinking and feeling and look at their attitudes and look at their mindset - and saying, okay, do I go and reinvent the wheel? Do I go and do it all on my own? Do I go opposing that?  

Well, not if that is getting people the result that I want to get. It makes sense then to learn from those and to maybe even emulate them to some degree. Certainly take it on and condition it as your own thought processes, your own mindset, maybe your own attitudes, your own behaviours, your own tactics in your business.  

It might make sense then, of course, to say, I'm going to go with the flow because this is clearly how you create success in business as a whole, or in an area of business, or in life in a specific area. That might make sense then rather than being that kind of constant cavalier and that person that says, "No, I'm going to reject the norm and do it my own way."  

I've got a little bit of that in me, that rebel, I promise you. And therefore, in the past, sometimes I have gone against the best practice because I was so hell bent on being unique, an individual, like a little snowflake, and not wanting to conform. And I had to fight that a little bit.  

Now it's all about personal growth. And that was important for me at the time. However, realistically, there were things that I did which got in the way of me achieving what I wanted to achieve. Certainly slowed down my progress. So it might make sense to go with the flow, follow the herd, or certainly follow the success, right? That's worked for other people in the past.  

However, at other times, it's really important for us to potentially go against the grain. There's a big movement in business and entrepreneurism about being disruptive. When everyone else is doing this, or the whole business world, the whole market is seeing the world like this, and you see a different way over here and you go this direction, there are some great successful people - love them or hate them, it doesn't matter - they are truly successful because of this.  

People like Elon Musk, for example - absolutely a rebel. Banking was one of the first things that really made him his success. And it didn't quite turn out the way he thought it would. But if you remember, back in the day, he thought that the future of banking was going to be no more high street banks. Well, he's probably right. Let's be honest. He probably wasn't expecting it to take the next 30, 40, 50 years for that to happen. But the truth was, what he did do was go out and make his money with PayPal. So it was not necessarily quite the vision that he had at the time for the online bank thing, but it made him a lot of money, which enabled him to go down a different route.  

Let's be honest. Electric cars - they weren't particularly popular. They weren't sexy. No other car company was really investing heavily in them. Elon Musk comes into Tesla and completely disrupts the whole marketplace, makes one of the most desirable cars - forget about it being electric - one of the most desirable cars with the Tesla. A little Roadster initially, and then obviously the rest of the range and the model S, incredibly fast.  

And now, people who like fast cars are moving away from the idea that they need a big combustion engine that chucks out a load of diesel out the back. I can go for an electric car and have a car that does 0 to 60 in under two seconds. You just have to pay about a million quid for it.  

So he’s completely disrupted that whole market, in terms of the cars. And you know, I think once there was a movement towards electricity, and I think it was probably inevitable we'd go for electric cars, I think he came in as a massive key player to accelerate that whole thing. Because suddenly then Mercedes have to catch up. Audi have to catch up, BMW. Everyone's behind Tesla, by the way. I think it's fair to say that. No one, I mean, everyone else is at least something like three years or five years behind Tesla. He got the jump on everyone. Clearly for him, it paid off to go away from everybody else.  

Steve Jobs, - same thing, love him or hate him - did the same thing with the iPhone. The phone was a utilitarian tool. That phone was plugged into other people's networks. And the phone would be plugged into that network and the network determined how the phone worked.  

And then when Steve Jobs came out with the iPhone, he went, "No, no, no, no, no. This is how I want my phone to work. Your network has to support my phone."  

Never been done before, but he did it. He pulled it off. And instead of having mobile phones - I think the most expensive back then were probably about £300 we were paying, weren't we, for old Nokia's back in those days – he suddenly brings out the iPhone. I think it was like £600 for that first phone and people said, "No, no one's going to buy a phone for £600. No one's going to see the value."  

We did, didn't we. We went absolutely all in and fell in love with it. And whilst we had smartphones before the iPhone, again I think it's fair to say that the iPhone literally transformed or revolutionized the whole mobile phone industry to what we have today, where we're all on smartphones. Whether it's a Samsung, whether it's a Sony, or whether it's an iPhone. Completely and utterly changed the course of direction. So for him again, he went against the grain. Everyone went this direction; he went against the grain.  

So it's about being really smart when we need to follow the herd and being really smart when we go against the grain. Sometimes if we go against the grain, we're harming ourself, harming our progress, harming our success. Sometimes when we go against the grain, what we're doing is tapping into an incredible opportunity that maybe just nobody else can see.  

I can't tell you when to follow and when not to follow. What I can say is this. If you follow everyone else, you're going to get what everyone else has. Assuming you do it as well as everyone else. So if what you want is what everyone else has got, that's a good path.  

If you want something unique and different, you're going to have to carve a different path. However, what you don't want to do is cut your nose off in order to spite your face. You don't want to cut off all that best practice and go out as a complete maverick and do everything on your own completely uniquely, maybe at the expense of the result you're actually trying to get.  

Follow the herd when it makes sense, and you want to go against the grain when you're brave enough, and when it gives you the opportunity and the possibility of the unknown that nobody else is yet tapping into, or maybe very few people are tapping into. And maybe that's how you're going to create something truly unique for yourself and something incredibly valuable for you.  

So have a think about that. When do you go against the grain? When do you go with the flow?  


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