Images and Perspectives

The world is my muse, not my mirror

Question ‘Common Wisdom’: It Isn’t Always Right!

For me, this song is pure genius. You might not have given it quite so much thought. Right now though, I wonder if you would listen to it and see if you agree that it broke a major rule and succeeded. Chances are, our thoughts will differ. But that’s fine. Music is about feeling, after all! As with sport, it makes for great conversation.

I’ll break a rule myself by digressing even before I get to my point. Stick with me though – I’m painting, and sometimes the image on the canvas isn’t immediately apparent to anyone other than the artist.

In his great book, Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom wrote of his weekly meetings with his teacher and mentor, Morrie Schwartz. While the wisdom from this book can change anyone’s life, the part that sticks with me the most

“The truth is, part of me is every age. I’m a three-year-old, I’m a five-year-old, I’m a thirty-seven-year-old, I’m a fifty-year-old. I’ve been through all of them, and I know what it’s like. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age, up to my own.”

So here’s my point:

Common Wisdom is so often so horribly wrong, but nevertheless it controls much of the way people react to others and so many business decisions. For example:

Sentimentality and romance are the domain of girls and women, rather than boys and men, right? Well if you consider songs that aim for the heart, they certainly either aim at the female half of the market or to an extent, everyone, rather more than mainly men and boys.

Not this song though! It is for music, what The Graduate is for movies: an evergreen song that aims squarely at adolescent boys and the men who retain that part of them forever. You see, losing their virginity to an older woman is one of the most pervasive fantasies of young lads. And men might move on, get married, have kids and careers, but hopefully, we all retain that youthful innocence within us, to bring a lump to the throat or get in touch with that part of me that will always be there. It’s simply not possible for me to hear this song and not feel the yearning teenager who will always be a part of me.

The lesson for business? Don’t be bound by common wisdom. Your audience might not be what that points you to. And while few such breaks with convention will have the reach of this great song, there are opportunities out there that will be missed by the majority, who are bound by false constructs because they are not able to ask questions that few will think of.

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