Throughout my life and on many different occasions, I’ve heard (the) reason(s) for doing something, stated as: “We always do it this way.” In other words, don’t do it in a new (or the recursive acronym – gnu :-) way, but continue doing it the same old way.
Of course, there’s merit in doing something because it was proven to work in the past. If we’re familiar with what we’ve done, then we will have a certain degree of confidence in doing it “like before.” If it has worked in the past, then we readily assume it will work in the present. And, it might!
So, why consider doing it differently? If we do something a certain way because, we always do it that way, then what are we giving up by not trying a different way?
Consider Henry Ford and his invention of the Ford assembly line. He decided to have the cars move to the workers instead of the “we always do it this way” of having the workers move to the cars. That simple switch revolutionized the automobile industry. How did Ford think of this? I’ll bet he didn’t know exactly what the result would be when he decided to change his assembly line. I’ll also bet he was operating on a hunch. He decided to do something that wasn’t the way it had always been done.
How can we get out of the rut of doing something the way it has always been done? One way is by using the old education adage: “start with a clean slate.” Literally, start out with nothing from the past. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use past knowledge, but I am saying we should set it aside, as much as possible, in order to have a fresh new look at what we’re trying to do. Do some what if-ing. Consider the implications and consequences of the “what if’s” and then, if they seem reasonable, try them.
Starting out with a clean slate allows the creative part of thinking to be manifested. As long as we use our critical thinking to help assess the creative output from our mind, we should be able to have fresh approaches to problems, while still using what we know from the “way we have always done it.”
For a change, consider trying new approaches to some of the mundane parts of your life. Instead of mowing your grass by going back and forth, try going round and round. Instead of going to the grocery store using your usual route, try a completely different one that takes you by a new area. Instead of eating a salad at the beginning of the meal, try eating it at the end of the meal. There are many times during a normal day that we could change our approach and reason of, “we always do it this way.”
By getting rid of the reason, “We always do it this way,” we will be able to have a new look at our present and future. Too often, people are stuck in the past by not trying new ways of doing things.
Think about it - if you always do things a certain way based on previous methods, then your vision of the future is like the past. You have nothing new to look forward to. This is especially true for those of us who are “up-there in years.” We have so much history that we can’t imagine a new and different way of doing something. “That’s the way we’ve always done it!“
How about a fresh and new look on life? Let’s use the philosophy behind the statement, “we always do it this way” sparingly.
Consider changing the statement to, “We always DID it that way, but now we are considering new ways.“
Should we look for new ways to do what we do?
Well, if we like stale and mundane, then no.
If we don’t want “freshness” in our approach to doing what we do, then no.
But, if we want to learn from the past AND not necessarily repeat it, then yes, we should look for new ways to do what we do. :-)