I am not afraid to do things differently. In fact, my whole persona exudes innovation and the need to see and do things from a different perspective.
I am a pretty different fellow, and let me tell you that I’m pretty proud of it.
You know what? Let me reveal a secret to you. When I was an English-as-a-second-language student at the University of Southern Mississippi back in the late 1990s, I used to join chat rooms and make cold calls to commercial banks and credit companies, in an attempt to learn the English language quicker.
I am not afraid to try new things to gain terrain more efficiently. Hey, we all have our own ways of doing things, right?
My reasoning for taking this approach was simple. I felt, “The more I practice, the better I will get.”
While that concept is tried-and-true, my own supplemental (and admittedly unorthodox) approach to learning a new language helped me to be proficient in English in about three months. How much technology was involved in achieving this? Some, but not as much as you may think.
We are all creatures of habit. We live in an evil world where we are surrounded by the conformity of life.
In a way, we are rewarded to be quiet and obedient, which I must admit has its perks. However, the biggest breakthroughs of our time, including the smartphone, have not followed a predictable norm of behavior.
Do you really think that the engineers at Apple designed and developed the iPhone with a quiet and obedient spirit in mind? Of course not! Their rebellious philosophy not only changed the way we communicate these days, it also changed the value of their company. Apple is now a true goliath worth $900 billion.
Why am I saying all of this in this column? Well, it is because I want to convey the idea that human ingenuity, along with different ideas, when applied with reasonable caution and planning, can be better than any technology available on the market. Sure, technology can be the outcome of great human ingenuity and thinking, but human effort is at the center of its success.
Preston Tucker once said it is the idea that matters in the development of any innovation. The Tucker Torpedo automobile was simply machinery. Don’t be blind to what is right in front of you. Get outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
If you run weekly meetings, experiment doing what Gina Simpson from Bike Walk Tennessee recommends: “Go for a walking meeting next time.”
Have you tried enrolling in an Encore class here at Lee University? Maybe you should as a means to meet new people in town for a bargain.
Maybe we should consider having an event in Cleveland titled, “Unplugging in Cleveland, Tennessee,” where we all make an effort to put our smartphones away for a few hours every day for seven days and have a public event afterward where we debrief our living experiences about disconnecting in a public forum. Are these activities that innovative? Not really, but they can be a beginning.
Simply being realistic, a little bit of creativity isn’t a bad thing for anybody.
Listen carefully: In order to innovate, you have to empower “idea people” to help you to advance your organization’s mission. Pay special attention to those who question the status quo once in a while. Resist old ideas and don’t think that technology alone will always solve your most intricate problems, because chances are high it won’t.
Remember: Technology is just a tool. Our nature is creative and often unpredictable. Spending a lifetime doing the minimum will only result in one single outcome. It is called mediocrity. Don’t be satisfied with being mediocre! It’s just not worth it, man.
Do me a favor, if you please.
Finish reading this column, and honestly answer the following three questions.
First, what am I doing today to promote the kingdom of God? Second, is technology impeding me from becoming what God wants me to be? Third, who is making the important decisions in my life?
In the end, what really matters in this world is your ability to be human and express yourself positively in the community, and having God in the center of your plans.
Technology is nothing more than a tool and should be viewed as such. You are human and much better than any technology out there. Explore a brand new world of opportunities by giving yourself a chance to be creative today.
Your grandkids will appreciate your efforts. You will be remembered as a legacy.
——— (Previously published in the Cleveland Daily Banner)
(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at luiscalmeida.info).