I’m reading Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life by Ozan Varol. Part of me is a contrarian like Varol. The contrarian in me muscles by the good-girl programming asking a lot of hard questions like “Why does it have to be this way?” So, of course, I preordered his book.
I’m about a third of the way through, and I already recommend it. I’m actively thinking about how to apply it to life and work. It’s simple, but not easy.
It’s funny how “Common wisdom” sits on our shoulder whispering in our ear as hard to shake as an unwanted party guest. That voice that admonishes us to follow the well-worn, tried-and-true path even when we know it’s not optimal or that it’s not working at all.
I keep thinking about Dick Fosbury and his high jump technique. Ridiculed for defying convention and jumping backward over the bar, Fosbury had the last laugh when he was standing on the top platform at the 1968 Olympics with his gold medal.
I am an early adopter of technology, and there have been many moments where I backed a method, or a technology I knew was right — a better way — and faced ridicule, criticism, or derision. Email, instant messaging, the web, the BlackBerry, Amazon, (and online shopping in general), WordPress, Dropbox, Slack, online learning, and the list goes on. The lack of enthusiasm is hard, and I’ve questioned my judgment from time to time. Still, it hasn’t deterred me from being a contrarian when it comes to technology solutions. I’m always in search of a better way.
How do I keep doing that and doing it in other areas of my life? How do I ignore the voices that seek the safety of the familiar?
My biggest takeaway so far is that we can all conduct unlimited thought experiments without needed resources, money, permission, or specialized training. A sandbox environment in technology protects mission-critical work from experiments. It lets you play without bringing your whole environment down. Varol talks about creating that sandbox in our minds: if our thought experiments don’t work, it’s okay, we can just move on.
Check out Think Like a Rocket Scientist and let me know what you think!