One of the hallmarks of human intelligence is our ability to make sense out of chaos, to spot patterns amidst apparently random elements and therefore learn to expect what will happen next.
This ability has led to the harnessing of the elements like fire and water and our emergence as a species from the caves and into our cities and technologies.
But, as a stand-alone strategy for success, relying on our patterns is only good for repeating what is already known and established. It really does nothing for moving ahead once these patterns have been established.
We all have and follow patterns. Typically, we call these habits. Sometimes these habits are so conspicuous and so ingrained that they come to define, to a certain extent, who we are. So much so so that, sometimes, people have a hard idea knowing who they really are outside of their habitual behaviours:
I am smoker
I am a vegetarian
I am a fitness fanatic
I am a banker
I am an entrepreneur
This linguistic fallacy has us mistaking a description of an aspect of a thing (ourselves) for identification of that thing.
The longer we insist on the validity of these identifications, the longer we stay the same, not growing, not developing, not becoming more than what we currently are. If you also happen to be stressed out, unhappy, depressed, overweight, unhealthy, broke or otherwise not in (what to you) an ideal situation, its quite likely because of some of your habits.
But we mostly don’t question these habits, mistaking them as we do for our identity. Will you not know who I am if I stop (insert habit) tomorrow? I think we all fear losing ourselves sin change. But our idea of who we are is an amalgam, a composite of many experiences… at some stage however, we seem to decide that we have seen enough and settle on a set of behaviours as being optimal for us. And maybe they are at that time. The mistake is that we then go on to confuse that for being Who we are, instead of just being a solution to the current situation. Do all your habits still serve you are now, or at least who you want to be?
The only way to know this for sure is to break free of your habits, your identifiers and to try new things and go to new places… literally and figuratively. Habits and specialisation come at a cost: knowing more and more about only 1 thing and knowing increasingly little about everything else.
Of course, breaking habits involves fear, uncertainty and anxiety. The question we need to really honestly ask ourselves is if we are actually happy with our current status quo or whether we are just comfortable with it because it is KNOWN.
Change, innovation and life-long learning are the current buzzwords of the workplace. But they all mean nothing if we as individuals are not prepared or able to see our own patterns and habits as negotiable. If we ourselves are not prepared to swim out into a brave new world, how we can we expect the society around us to do the same?